A Bronx, New York church that serves a large Jamaican community has been hit hard by the pandemic with 21 members dead from coronavirus.

St Luke’s Episcopal Church, located on Barnes Avenue and East 222nd Street in the Northeast section of the Bronx, also has a number of members battling the virus.

Pastor of St Luke’s, Father Pierreandre Duverit, said that some members were still in hospital with the virus while others were recovering at home.

St Luke’s Episcopal Church boasts almost 1,000 members and is one of the largest churches in the Northeast Bronx. The majority of the congregation is Jamaican although it draws membership from African and other Caribbean migrants.

“The coronavirus did have a serious impact on our church,” said Duverit.

He said that among those who fell victim to the virus was the church’s parish administrator, Donald Bookall.

Duverit said that social-distancing protocols made it difficult for church members to reach out to those affected by the virus.

“In times of grief, when people need physical caring, it is difficult when they are unable to come together physically. This makes it more difficult to heal,” he said.

Duverit praised social media for allowing members to keep in touch.

“While social media cannot replace the physical get-together, it has allowed us to stay connected and to reach out and offer comfort,” he said.

The cleric pointed out that many of the church members are on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.

“Some are nurses, physicians, nurses’ aides, and other disciplines in healthcare. We continue to pray for our members that they will not be affected by the virus,” he said.