Pastor Who Attended John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference Dies From Suspected Case of Coronavirus; Attenders Not Notified

By Julie Roys

An elderly man who attended John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference earlier this month has passed away due to a”highly suspected case” of coronavirus, according to multiple Facebook posts. Yet someone who attended the conference, which gathered about 5,000 people at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, says attendees still have not been informed of their possible exposure to the virus. And Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You and one of the speakers at the conference, has deleted his Facebook post about the man’s death.

On Thursday evening, Johnson posted about the death of Alexey I. Kolomiytsev, pastor emeritus of Word of Grace Bible Church, an evangelical, Russian-American church in Battle Ground, Washington. (Kolomiytsev’s son, Alexey A. Kolomiytsev, is the current pastor of Word of Grace Bible Church.)

Johnson wrote: “Alexey Kolomiytsev and his father were at the Shepherds’ Conference two weeks ago, and shortly after returning home, Alexey’s dad tested positive with the Wuhan virus. Alexy (sic) writes: ‘Our dad has gone to heaven . . .’ Nothing is known about the funeral yet. We will let you know as soon as it is clear.”

Soon after Johnson posted, several people who had attended the conference on March 4-6 began asking why the Shepherds’ conference had not notified attenders about their possible exposure to the virus. Simo Jovovic, an Australian who told me that he had traveled to California to attend the conference, posted, “With 5,000 men there in attendance, it’s only reasonable for ShepCon to make an announcement of possible exposure.”

I corresponded with Jovovic and he confirmed seeing Johnson’s post on Thursday evening. Jovovic added that as of 1 a.m. Central Time Saturday morning, he still had not heard anything from the Shepherds’ Conference.

I reached out to Phil Johnson, asking him why he had deleted his post, but he did not respond. (see update) I also reached out to John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church, asking him why the conference had not notified attenders that they may have been exposed to coronavirus, and also inquiring about whether the church had notified government authorities. To date, MacArthur has not responded.

I also checked the Facebook page for  the Shepherds’ Conference and it has no mention of Kolomiytsev’s death or of conference attenders’ possible exposure to coronavirus.

I contacted the health department in Los Angeles County, where Grace Community Church is located, and asked if anyone from the church had contacted them, but have not yet heard back. I also reached out to the health department and sheriff’s office in Clark County, Washington, where the deceased pastor lived, but have not heard back from them either.

I  reached out to Alexey A. Kolomiytsev, seeking confirmation of the details posted to Facebook, but he has not responded. However, the family has multiple posts on Facebook concerning the elder Kolomiytsev’s death. One mentions that Kolomiytsev was a “highly suspected case of coronavirus,” but says the family is still awaiting results.

Lance M. Roberts, a missionary sent by Grace Community Church to the Czech Republic, also posted to Facebook about Kolomiytsev’s death and confirmed that both the younger and older Kolomiytsev were at the conference. “Please pray for my friend Alexey,” Roberts wrote. “He just lost his father to the coronavirus. His dad attended Shepherd’s (sic) Conference with him where I was two weeks ago and upon returning home fell ill with the virus.”

Roberts has since deleted his Facebook comment. I reached out to him to ask why, but he did not respond.

I will continue to monitor this situation and post updates as they become available.

UPDATE: Phil Johnson has since responded and said he deleted his Facebook post because someone close to the family told him that the cause of Kolomiytsev’s death has not been determined. According to a post by a family member, Kolomiytsev was a “highly suspected case” of COVID-19, but not confirmed. The copy has been revised to reflect this information.

UPDATE 2: The Shepherds’ Conference today posted an update online, which informs attenders that a 90-year-old man who attended the conference passed away. It adds, “There are posts online that he passed away from the coronavirus, but the physicians who treated him have not confirmed that information at this time.” To read the full update, click here.

UPDATE 3: The Shepherds’ Conference just posted another update, confirming that Kolomiytsev died from COVID-19.

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63 thoughts on “Pastor Who Attended John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference Dies From Suspected Case of Coronavirus; Attenders Not Notified”

  1. mary jo linder, are you sheltering in place, volunteering to socially isolate in the most stringent of terms for the sake of others?

  2. How many people at this gathering had a flu? Does she demand notices be sent out for this? Compare cuurent deaths by flu THIS season to current deaths by this virus.

  3. I noticed here that there are three ardent offenders who are defending that which is clearly wrong and stupid at any cost. None of these individuals are using their real names and most of their responses are real brief and directed at trying to shame Julie who is only doing what any good investigative reporter does. I keep running into these types that show up on any blog and defend their celebrity schmucks while listening to no one. I have become aware over the years of the use of “online reputation management firms” by these “Christian” celebrities and it is quite likely that these people here are actually being paid to harass Julie and defend JMac wherever there is actual legitimate criticism.

    I am including this as a wake up call to Julie and the rest of the comment readers here. Julie, you might want to start investigating some of these companies. Early on insiders in GFA let it be known that KP Yohannan had hired a company and was using donor dollars for this purpose. In those early days I have no doubt I was debating some of these employees masquerading as “regular commenters” which they are not. Julie has certainly gotten under JMac’s skin by exposing his million$ to his children and how he refuses to submit to the authorities over his school. He has got millions so it would be very easy for him to target her online. This is probably common practice whenever she investigates a “Christian” who has made millions off of $elling a go$pel.

  4. You are being judgemental Ernaldo.Julie R was right to put it out there. Read carefully.
    I also dont think it was wise to go ahead with the Conference , Covid 19 has been in the news before the conference. But Pastors arent perfect.

  5. I have read comments from both sides of this “controversy,” I have found much/most of Julie Roy’s work credible, helpful and fair. In this case I believe Roys had the story before she had the facts. I will read her work from now on w/ more skepticism than before.

    1. Steve, I appreciate your balanced perspective. It’s always a judgment call when to publish a story. In hindsight, I wish I had given Johnson more time to respond. At the same time, I think given the rapid spread of coronavirus, it would have been wise to alert conference guests as soon as it was known that Pastor Kolomiytsev was highly suspected to have COVID-19. I really did strive to be fair and added updates to the story as they became available.

    1. Steve M. – So what? A man went to a conference and either got a virus their that killed him or already had it and may have spread it to others. Is this not the center of the story? So the supposed impatience of a reporter is a more serious thing then not cancelling a Mammon making meeting put on by a brood of viperous snakes? I do not believe that Julie did anything wrong. JMac and Johnson have done many things clearly wrong according to the Word of God. This is just the latest of many…

      1. Mr.J
        You are refuting things I never said. It is obvious you are driven by a distaste for all things MacArthur/Johnson/Grace Community Church. Let’s leave it at that.

        1. I still say to you, so what? I have a distaste for corruption and narcissism in what claims to be the church. MacArthur, Driscoll, MacDonald, KP Yohannan, and how about many, many others making themselves rich and famous by $elling a go$pel. This is not Orthopraxy and these men are not practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ. These lead many lemmings astray by their practices as their followers do the same evil things they do. These are the modern neo-Pharisees still condemned by everything that Jesus spoke to such people. As long as they have followers practicing what they do, their followers also need to repent. Why do you think that God sent a plague that shut down virtually every church corporate event going on on the entire world all at once? If God loves everything that they are doing, why is He stopping most everything right now?

          1. The fact that you lump MacArthur with Driscoll and McDonald is….wow, hard to comprehend. No need for you and I to dialogue.

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