Megachurch pastor who served as Trump evangelical advisor diagnosed with COVID after attending White House party
Pastor Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor at Georgia megachurch Free Chapel, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a White House Christmas party with his daughter earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Free Chapel pastor Javon Ruff announced the senior pastor's diagnosis during a live-streamed in person service on Sunday.
Free Chapel spokesperson Tracy Page told McClatchy News that Franklin was "exposed to an associate of the congregation" on Thursday who was infected. The spokesperson said the pastor "is self isolating and abiding by all relevant CDC guidelines."
In a statement, the Gainesville-based Free Chapel — which Charlotte Observer reports has "seven campuses in three states" and resumed in-person services in September — said it will move the church's candlelight service online "due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our area." The church said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution."
"Franklin also attended the September nomination ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Rose Garden ceremony, which was later identified as a superspreader event after several people in President Donald Trump's administration, including the president and first lady Melania Trump, tested positive for the coronavirus. Franklin tested negative following the ceremony, WQAD reports.
He has been an ally of the president's and has served as an evangelical adviser to him. He spoke at the Trump campaign's event "Evangelicals for Trump: Praise, Prayer, and Patriotism" in Atlanta in July."