Pastor at church holding 'drive-in' services tests positive for COVID-19

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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A pastor in Ashland is recovering after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

J.D. Crockrel confirmed his diagnosis in a post on Ashland Christ Temple Church's Facebook page.

"Monday at work is when I started having an itchy throat," Crockrel said. "By Tuesday, I left work early because I had the itchy throat, the runny nose, the pressure in the head, the headache. and I was very, very tired -- very, very weak."

Crockrel's bout with the virus comes after his church has held "drive-in" services for the last few weeks because Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recommended churches stop in-person services.

"People were jumping the gun saying, 'Here he is, he got it at church and he's spreading around his church,' which is not the case at all," Crockrel said. "There has been no one who has been attending the services has reported that they're having any signs or symptoms."

When WSAZ aired a story on the church's services, our cameras saw people getting out of their cars, sitting in lawn chairs, and not maintaining the designated 6 feet social distance.

WSAZ reached out to Beshear's office Sunday, asking should the church stop holding services because of Crockrel's diagnosis.

"It's creative, it's an opportunity to be there in person, but you can only do it if you follow the set of rules," Beshear said Sunday. "Let me say, the ones who are doing this are trying to do the right thing. You are and I appreciate that, let's just make sure that because you want to do the right thing, we do it the right way."

Beshear says people need to stay in their cars and they must be parked six feet away. He also says churches can't pass around the offering plate, and encourages online donating.

"When I heard it, I wanted to call him up, and tell him the Lord was going to bless him real good," Crockrel said. "I appreciate that he as always had our back since day one with this."

Crockrel says these guidelines will be enforced at future services, which he says he doesn't plan on ending.

"From this Sunday on, we will make sure that we are really enforcing the rules because we want to be respectful to our governor and the wishes he has for us."

Crockrel says he plans to be back to lead Easter Sunday service.