Metro megachurch pastor tests positive for COVID-19

The senior pastor of a metro Atlanta megachurch was absent from service on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Jentezen Franklin, who leads Free Chapel in Gainesville, is in quarantine after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, officials said. Pastor Javon Ruff announced the news during Free Chapel’s Sunday service.

“We want to make you aware that Pastor Franklin has come in contact with COVID, but he is doing perfectly fine. He actually is doing great,” Ruff said. “He went and got tested and his test came back positive so he is doing the right thing to do and staying quarantined and continuing to be distanced. We’ll continue to pray and lift him up.”

Earlier media reports noted the diagnosis came within days of Franklin attending a Christmas party at the White House. On Tuesday, Franklin posted on Instagram a photo of himself and his daughter at a White House Christmas party.

However, a statement from a Free Chapel spokesperson indicated there was no connection.

“Pastor Jentezen Franklin was exposed to an associate of the congregation in the metro on Thursday who turned out to be infected,” the statement said. “Pastor Jentezen has tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms are mild. He is in consultation with his personal physician, self isolating and abiding by all relevant CDC guidelines.”

Ruff announced that Free Chapel’s Christmas Eve candlelight service will be held virtually “out of an abundance of caution.”

The church’s statement concluded, “We hope you have a special and meaningful Christmas this year with your family. This will be a Christmas like no other for so many people but Jesus is still the light of the world.”

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