HOLLAND, Mich. – The senior pastor of a church in western Michigan has encouraged his congregation to catch the coronavirus to “get it over with” and calling it “all good.”
Bart Spencer made the statements during a Nov. 14 sermon at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland, The Holland Sentinel reported.
“COVID, it’s all good,” Spencer said. “It’s OK. Get it, get it over with, press on.”
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 389,032 as of Friday, including 9,661 deaths, state officials report.
Friday’s update represents 8,689 new cases and 81 additional deaths. On Thursday, the state reported 380,343 total cases and 9,580 deaths.
The sermon was posted on the church's website and shared on Facebook, the newspaper said. Spencer later told the newspaper that he and several members of his family contracted the virus and have recovered.
“It’s not fun,” he said. “I lost my sense of taste and smell, but my bout with the flu was worse.”
Former Lighthouse Baptist member Miguel Medina said he posted the video clip of the sermon on Facebook.
“I had no intention of posting, but I couldn’t believe what I just saw and heard,” Medina said in an email.
The church has been holding services in-person. Some attendees wear masks and social distance. Others don’t, according to the newspaper.
“We trust our people to make their own decisions,” Spencer said. “We respect one another’s positions.”
In a later sermon posted on the church’s website, Spencer addressed the interview with The Holland Sentinel, saying that people have a “complete right and privilege to believe whatever you want to believe.”
New COVID-19 cases are slowing but deaths continue to rise in Michigan. Testing has remained steady, with more than 46,000 diagnostic tests reported per day, but the positive rate has increased to more than 13.4% over the last week. Hospitalizations have increased steadily for the last five weeks, including upticks in critical care and ventilator use.