The senior pastor of one of Philadelphia’s largest churches announced Thursday morning that he has tested positive for coronavirus.
The Rev. Alyn E. Waller said Thursday morning in a Facebook Live post that he got tested on Monday when the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium set up a community testing site at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, and he just got his results.
“I tested for the purpose of modeling the behavior and pointing out the importance of it. And I made reference to the fact that I did not have symptoms and I did not think that I needed to be tested, but was doing it to model," Waller said.
"Well, the reality is ... I tested positive and so I am now in quarantine. I need you to know I have no symptoms. I feel fine and we are taking the responsible steps right now to make sure Sister Waller and Eryka are tested and we will get those results back. We have also made sure that everyone that has done anything at [Enon] East gets tested as well. That also means for now, because we are addressing that building, we have shut down the feeding program at [Enon] East. Everything is out of West. We will continue to feed at West."
You can watch the full video here:
Waller said he hopes people will learn from his experience and take the virus seriously.
"I think we have tried to be responsible in the way that we have lived and the way we have used masks and so forth and yet I tested positive,” he said. “That is why testing is so important, that is why it is important for you to stay in unless you absolutely have to go out, that is why it is important you do the social distancing. That is why it is important we take this thing seriously. Why? Because, there are some things they just don't know. There are some things we just don't know.”
Enon stopped holding physical services in March and livestreamed praise and worship and Waller's sermons from the church building. Now, Waller will livestream his sermons from his office.
"We are going to continue having worship service, we are going to be very creative on Sunday morning,” Waller said. “I intend to preach. I'll be preaching in this context. Everything is going to be fine. I believe that this is a part of the assignment.
"I believe that I am supposed to go through this with you and with people. I am encouraged, and I know that everything is going to be all right and so I ask that you pray for those that are infected and affected by the virus. I'm not going to get melodramatic and come on every day and tell you about everything. We'll continue to touch base the same way we have. We'll have our prayer on Saturday nights. We will pray on Sunday morning. We will have Tuesday night Bible study. I will update you consistently with me and if there are any changes. But I wanted to control the language."
Waller added that he wanted those viewing his video to pray, not just for him, but for anyone who’s been affected.
"Continue to keep everybody in prayer," he said. I'm not the only that's tested positive in the city of Philadelphia, so your prayers need to be for everyone."
Enon Associate Pastor Leroy Miles, who'd just left a funeral for one of their members, agreed in an interview later Thursday.
"We want to be an encouragement to everyone. [We're] sympathetic to all that have been impacted by the coronavirus," he said. "So many folks are going to be impacted."
Waller's announcement comes as the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium continues testing at local Black churches, a move they said is imperative to connect with African Americans.
Consortium volunteer Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church said Waller's diagnosis should be heeded as a lesson.
"The first thing we are doing is praying for Pastor Waller — his good health, his continued health and his healing. He is an important person in the community on so many levels," Mitchell said. "This is a wake-up call that the coronavirus is no respecter of calling, no respecter of people, no respecter of class or of station."