Bishop Ricky Williams has dedicated his life to church, and he believed that God would protect him from catching COVID-19.
But after a trip to Louisiana, he came down with the virus. For almost three weeks over Thanksgiving, he said he was in terrible pain, extremely weak and isolated in a hotel room away from his family.
“I had faith to lie by, but I’m here to tell you I had COVID-19 and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Williams said. “This thing is so wicked, it’s not just physical. I’ve never had anxiety or panic attacks, with COVID I had all of that.
His church, Charlotte Immanuel Church of All Nations, has been holding drive-up services and conducting services through Zoom.
Williams’ wife Denise is a pastor and has been on the frontlines at Atrium as a chaplain, helping people say their final goodbyes over an iPad.
“I preach faith, I walk faith, I eat faith but being on the frontlines lets you know that those people had faith too,” she said.
Even with vaccines on the horizon, the Williams know there will be religious reasons people choose not to get one, so they continue to encourage masks and distanced services.
“People are dying and it’s not a badge of honor to say that you are having services in-person, “Denise Williams said.
The couple has rooted their life in faith and feel responsible to protect members of their church. They believe other faith leaders should do the same.
“I use my influence to protect the people, why would I want someone to get what I had,” Bishop Williams said.
Recent data shows that nearly 1,700 virus cases and 28 deaths have been linked to religious gatherings.