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Thread: Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem has lost nine parishioners to coronavirus

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem has lost nine parishioners to coronavirus

    Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem has lost nine parishioners to coronavirus.

    One Harlem church. 9 coronavirus deaths

    By Ray Sanchez, CNNUpdated 7:45 AM ET, Sun April 19, 2020

    New York (CNN)The Rev. Johnnie Green dreads answering his cell phone these days, fearing another call about a member of his Harlem congregation succumbing to the coronavirus.

    Mount Neboh Baptist Church, a fixture in the cultural center of black America, has lost 11 parishioners in the last month, nine to Covid-19, according to Green and church members. Two died of natural causes.

    "We deal with death all the time but we've never had to deal with a succession of death like now," said Green, who has been ministering to his flock via Facebook Live and Zoom from the dining room of his New Jersey home. "It was as if every other day I was getting a call that another parishioner had passed."

    The Rev. Johnnie Green, pastor of Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem

    Even after four decades in the ministry, the experience overwhelms Green. The mounting death toll leaves little time for proper grieving.

    "We see a lot of violence," Green said via Zoom. "We see gang activity from time to time. I've had to preside over the funerals of kids who were literally killed outside the doors of the church. But we've never seen anything like this."

    The pandemic has hit black Americans especially hard. It has fallen on Green's close-knit congregation with unrelenting ferocity.

    Black people are more likely than other Americans to have underlying health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. They're also statistically more likely to live in poverty, with less access to health insurance.

    "You know that saying, "When white America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia," said Green, 57, a Dallas native.

    From behind Mount Neboh's wrought iron gates and six ionic columns, the former synagogue is an early symbol of the ravages of the pandemic in African American communities across the country.

    "I have never lost that many church members in thirty days," said Green, the pastor since 2006. "It's unfathomable. These are people who five weeks ago were sitting in the congregation. These were active members. People who sang in the choir and served in the ministry."

    Only pastor attended graveside service

    The first parishioner to die from the virus was Cathy Williams, 65, a choir leader and minister in training. She was at church the second Sunday in March, according to the pastor.

    "She took ill on Monday and went in the hospital on Tuesday," Green said. "Six days later she was gone. She was wonderful. A mother and grandmother... Her family ran a laundry business for years."

    Nia Mensah, 39, a physical therapist who has been volunteering on a prayer hotline set up for anxious parishioners, recalled that Williams sang at her wedding in 2010.

    "Her passing broke my heart," Mensah said.

    On Monday, Green presided over a graveside service for Williams at a New Jersey cemetery. Only one person was allowed to attend. Her family designated him as their representative. He took pictures for them.

    "They came from Harlem to the cemetery in a procession and then they had to leave because of the restrictions," Green said.


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    Senior Member Captainron's Avatar
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    Black churches, especially in big cities, are little more than political organizations these days. They took the risk.
    "Men of low degree are vanity, Men of high degree are a lie. " David
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