A charismatic pastor in Florida has ignored the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing by refusing to close his church. He insisted that “the only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.”
On Sunday, Senior Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River in Tampa Bay, Florida, instructed his congregation to greet one another despite the worldwide recommendation to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well I know they don’t want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people. Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them. Amen,” he said as the service began. “Listen, this has to be the safest place. If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble.”
He also reiterated that his church would not be canceled and its doors will never close. “We are not stopping anything. I’ve got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.”
Pastor Rodney and his wife Adonica Howard-Browne are also the founders of Revival Ministries International, a “Bible school” based in Tampa Bay. He announced that the school would remain open because “we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
Revival Ministries International is comprised of the River Bible Institute, the River School of Worship and the River School of Government. Despite the state of Florida reporting four deaths and over 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Howard-Browne is refusing to take precautionary measures.
During his sermon Sunday, Browne shared that coronavirus is a “global plot to shut down churches,” forcing them to give up ground.
“All these churches that are allowing themselves to come down to 250, guess what? When you try to meet again, you ain’t gonna be able to meet again,” Browne preached. “They are going to keep you at 250 because you gave up ground. Whatever ground you give up because of fear, you will give up permanently.”
He also believes the World Health Organization (WHO) plans to use COVID-19 to “take over the control of nations” with forced vaccines in order to kill off people in an effort to reduce the population “because there are too many people on the planet.”
Pastor Browne confessed that he was both “excited” and “emotional” that the pandemic may be signaling the “end of days.” He said that he’s been preparing his “people for what’s coming.”
“For me, it doesn’t matter… Jesus is coming really, really soon,” he said. “If you don’t believe God, and trust God, you will not make it in the days coming. God will protect our people. And if you die to be with Jesus, what’s the problem?”