Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church and a leader in the Richmond-area faith community, died Saturday from illness related to COVID-19.
Bishop Glenn founded his Chesterfield County church in 1995 and served as the first black police chaplain in the Chesterfield Police Department after serving as a police officer in Portsmouth.
Church elder Bryan Nevers virtually addressed the church’s congregation Sunday morning with news of Bishop Glenn’s death from complications from COVID-19.
“It is with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart that I come to you this morning, and I regret to inform you that on last night, April the 11th at 9 p.m., that our father the Bishop Gerald Glenn transitioned from labor to reward,” Nevers said.
His legacy in the faith community both in the Richmond area and beyond will live on in many others, said the Rev. Joe Ellison, vice president for the Family Restoration Network, a local faith-based group.
Ellison serves as the chaplain for many Richmond sports teams and said Bishop Glenn was his biggest supporter and is responsible for his career in the ministry.
“It’s because of Bishop Glenn I am the husband, pastor and father I am today,” Ellison said. “He ordained me in the ministry, and it’s a tough day for the church, the body of Christ and pastors and ministers across the country.”
Bishop Glenn’s impact was also felt outside of the church, where he gained prominence as a community leader by serving as a liaison in Chesterfield County’s conflict over Confederate remembrance.
Millard “Pete” Stith, now retired from Chesterfield County government, said the bishop played a key role in brokering a deal between the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Daughters of the Confederacy, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and clergy to write a proclamation honoring the Confederacy that addressed both the pain and the pride stemming from this period in history.
“He was the kind of guy that didn’t look for blame, but would look for opportunities,” Stith said in a phone interview.
Bishop Glenn worked in a variety of other roles throughout his career, including as director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, and he helped run then-Gov. Mark Warner’s Crime in Minority Communities Initiative Task Force.
Warner, now a senator, issued a statement Sunday offering his condolences to the man who gave the prayer of invocation at Warner’s 2002 gubernatorial inauguration.
“Bishop Glenn was my great friend for more than 20 years,” Warner said. “He was an extraordinary spiritual and community leader, and we will all miss him very much.”
Sen. Tim Kaine also offered condolences in a tweet Sunday, calling Bishop Glenn a friend and pillar of the Richmond faith community.
“My heart sinks as I learn this morning that Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, died yesterday from COVID-19,” Kaine said.
Richmond General District Judge David Hicks, who worked with Bishop Glenn on the task force as Richmond commonwealth’s attorney, called him an intelligent and insightful person with the ability to work across party lines for the good of the community.
Reached by phone on Sunday, Hicks said the bishop was able to bridge the divide often felt between faith leaders and commonwealth’s attorneys in a way that took their relationship to a “new place.”
“He was a person with an incredible heart for the community. He was a very large presence, and he will be missed by everyone,” Hicks said.
In Sunday morning’s address, Nevers said the church will send out information in the next few days on final arrangements in accordance with social distancing.