Jentezen Franklin Free Chapel, Atlanta, Georgia mega pastor contracts COVID-19 while attending Christmas party at White House.
Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, north east of Atlanta, was absent from Sunday services as a result of his positive diagnosis according to reports.
Fellow pastor Javon Ruff announced Franklin’s COVID-19 diagnosis during the church’s service, which had about 100 people in attendance, including many not wearing face masks. A recurring feat across many church gatherings through the course of the year despite the heightened risks of the coronavirus.
The 58-year-old pastor tested positive just days after attending a White House Christmas party with his daughter six days ago.
No direct connection has been made between Franklin’s diagnosis and his attendance at the party, according to the church.
Virtual church while refusing to link contraction
A church spokesperson said Franklin tested positive after coming into contact with an infected associate of the congregant last Thursday.
‘Pastor Jentezen Franklin’s visit to White House had no correlation with his diagnosis,’ the spokesperson said according to the Gainesville Times.
‘He was exposed to an associate of the congregation in the metro on Thursday who turned out to be infected.’
During the service on Sunday, Ruff told the congregation: ‘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.
‘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.’
But there’s more.
Ruff said the church’s Christmas Eve service would now be held virtually ‘out of an abundance of caution’.
Trump enabler evangelical Georgia mega-church pastor Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel Gainesville attended a White House Christmas party 6 days ago just tested positive for COVID-19. This was announced during church yesterday to a large gathering of church goers NOT wearing masks
— Frank Schaeffer (@Frank_Schaeffer) December 21, 2020
Just another coincidence?
Franklin’s COVID-19 symptoms are reported to be mild.
He had posted a photo on Instagram last Tuesday of himself and his daughter Courteney at a White House Christmas party.
‘Thank you @flotus and @realdonaldtrump for inviting us. It was gorgeous!’ his caption read.
Not immediately clear is whether President Trump or first Lady Melania were in attendance at that party. The famous couple had previously contracted coronavirus as the president has spend the greater part of the year downplaying the virus’ existence and the need to take precaution.
Footage at that event showed a handful of people not wearing masks.
The incident follows that of recent White House staff infections following a spate of indoor functions and the oval office refusing to enforce mask-wearing. The infections in the nation’s capital mirrors that of exponential cases and deaths across the country as many had refused to believe the virus being real while others demanded they be able to exercise their ‘constitutional freedom’ amid the ongoing pandemic.