CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the third night of holy convocation got underway at Kingdom City Church on Brookshire Boulevard Wednesday, Mecklenburg County health officials are turning their attention back to another congregation as they plan another massive event.
Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris is aware of United House of Prayer's planned event for the weekend of November 14 in Newport News, Virginia.
WCNC Charlotte confirmed the plans with a member of the congregation who did not want to be identified.
The plan is to have 11 buses carry worshipers to and from Charlotte for the convocation.
"The reality is, this is just not a good situation," Harris said.
However, there is nothing Harris can legally do about it although she has concerns that the mode of transportation and the mass gathering could cause another cluster of COVID-19.
"I can't stop the buses at the border (state line) from coming back. I can't prevent them from going," Harris said. "Being on a bus right now is probably one of the worst situations if you have someone who is COVID positive."
One of United House of Prayer's Charlotte locations was already the cause of a massive outbreak of coronavirus cases, according to Mecklenburg County health officials.
The United House of Prayer For All People on Beatties Ford Road held large, in-person convocations in October. As of Tuesday's update by county health officials, nine COVID deaths and 208 coronavirus cases have been traced back to the gatherings there.
"People's lives are at stake here," said Tron Jacob Azul, a former member of United House of Prayer in New York. "Don't y'all see people are literally dying?"
He left the church but his family members are still active members of the congregation.
He said the church isn't looking out for the well-being of its worshipers and church leadership is putting greed over salvation.
"It's about power and money," he said. "That's what it's about. It's like they're under a spell."
WCNC Charlotte has tried contacting United House of Prayer multiple times since the start of the outbreak in October but has yet to hear back from a church leader.