‘It hit home': Pastor at Biloxi church succumbs to COVID-19, several members test positive

The church is now reverting back to virtual services to prevent further spread in the congregation.

Biloxi church goes back virtual after several members test positive

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A Biloxi church has returned to virtual services after several members of the congregation tested positive for coronavirus, including the church’s long-time pastor, who died.

Leadership at Biloxi River Baptist Church decided to revert back to online church services after several in the congregation tested positive for COVID-19.

“The coronavirus is very real. We took precautions, we opened up about the same time everyone else did, around May 31,” said youth pastor Josh McDaniel. “Took precautions, still socially distanced ourselves, and it got worse. We started having people diagnosed with it. So we went back to virtual.”

Less than a week ago, the church’s longtime pastor Bro. Allen Smith succumbed after being diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this month.

Bro. Allen Smith died from COVID-19 after being diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.
Bro. Allen Smith died from COVID-19 after being diagnosed with the virus earlier this month. (Source: Riemann Funeral Home)

McDaniel says the pastor’s death hit the congregation hard. Bro. Allen had served as the church’s lead pastor since the 1980s.

“We are all heartbroken. We will for sure miss his guidance and his leadership, but one thing we know is he is in glory right now with his Savior so we are thankful for that,” McDaniel said.

Another church member, Bro. Bob Tapper is currently on a ventilator battling COVID-19 at the VA Hospital. Tapper’s wife, Lou, was able to recover at home.

Others who have contracted the virus have recovered or are in the process of recovering. However, McDaniel says, for now, church services will continue online only to minimize the risk that anyone else at the small church will get sick.

Biloxi River Baptist
Biloxi River Baptist (Source: Picasa)

“We’ve been doing live services through the Facebook page, and there’s just a handful - two, three people - that come on Sundays and Wednesdays,” said McDaniel. “We get live coverage going on our Facebook page, and we will continue to do that until we see fit and they tell us it’s safe to come back as a congregation.”

Safety as a congregation is now key for members of Biloxi River Baptist.

“I’m almost certain that every one of our members here is taking it more seriously now than maybe they did before because like I said, it hit home,” said McDaniel.

You can join Biloxi River Baptist online for services by liking their Facebook page.

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