TULSA, Okla. — When Merle Dry passed away on March 18, he became the first Oklahoman to die from coronavirus. Dry's family found themselves mourning in quarantine, but his church family quickly stepped in to help.
As the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths climbs across Oklahoma, churches are stepping up to help their families however they can. Dry's church, Metro Pentecostal, checked in on his family every day, and brought them meals at home.
In his church, Dry's death quickly sparked a new movement to stay ahead of the virus. That movement was led by Senior Pastor Don Martin.
“I have pushed my parishioners to go get the test. Don’t just tell me you’re sick and you’re over it, because there are a lot of carriers out there,” Martin said.
When Dry was buried, only his closest family could attend the funeral. Martin says they can only conduct private funerals, with no more than ten people.
In the weeks since Dry passed away, Martin says around a dozen parishioners have tested positive for COVID-19, and three more of his congregation's extended church family have also died form the virus.
Now, Pastor Martin and church leaders are reaching out to families of those recovering from the disease, as well as families who have stayed healthy, to let them know there is someone who cares.
"We text them every day, talk to them every day,” Martin said. “Each group calls every day or two, just to check on how they’re feeling. We have the ladies group, we have the staff, we have the student ministry, we have the children’s ministry, just trying to stay connected.”
Pastor Martin wants to remind people every day is important, and to be thankful for their families and loved ones.
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