By Marissa Perlman

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Tragedy is taking over a Sacramento-area church after a second parishioner died in as many weeks. Coronavirus now claimed the life of an 85-year-old man.

READ: Sacramento Church Says 5 Of Its Members Have Tested Positive For Coronavirus

Pastor Jeff Chapman with Faith Presbyterian Church now speaks to his congregation on YouTube. It’s the only way to connect in a time when they can’t physically mourn the loss of two of their own, together.

Chapman said, “You all are in my prayers, and I am in your prayers, we are grieving the loss.”

Donald Sperling, a former Sacramento City Treasurer, died Sunday. He lived just around the corner from his church, a place he was dedicated to.

Neighbor, Chet Waterbury, said, “He’s an easy-going guy, very active in church. He and I would race around the block; he on his walker and me on my cane, and see who would get there the fastest.”

READ: City Of Sacramento Announces Coronavirus Relief Fund

Pastor Chapman is now urging his members to follow the advice of health officials like Dr. Peter Bielensen.

“Try to hunker down and take care of yourself at home,” Chapman told his congregation.

Dr. Bielensen says this is the fifth person in the church to contract the virus, and the second to die from it. He says, despite the quick spread of the virus throughout the congregation, members likely won’t get priority testing.

“As of right now, because there is not enough testing, if they were asymptomatic, if they had no symptoms, they would probably not get priority over getting tested,” Bielensen said.

For now, the congregation is staying at home and remember Sperling, who was a staple in this neighborhood for decades.

“He was just such a character and just such a dear sweet man. It’s just very sad,” said one neighbor.

A Sacramento-area substitute teacher died from the virus earlier this month.

Marissa Perlman


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