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Shepherds’ Conference Confirms Conference Guest Died of COVID-19

By Julie Roys

The Shepherds’ Conference—a pastors’ conference in early March hosted by Pastor John MacArthur‘s church—today confirmed that a 90-year-old pastor who had attended the conference passed away from COVID-19. 

In an email sent to the approximately 5,000 conference guests, which was then forwarded to me, the Shepherd’s Conference team wrote:

“Our pastor and the conference team is committed to your health and safety at all the conferences we host,; consequently, we want to update you concerning the 90-year-old Shepherd’s Conference guest who recently passed away. The doctors confirmed that he passed away from COVID-19.”

The email added that no other conference guests, Grace Community Church staff, or volunteers “have reported a positive diagnosis of the coronavirus.” 

On Saturday, I reported that a guest at the conference, Alexey I. Kolomiytsev, pastor emeritus of Word of Grace Bible Church in Battle Ground, Washington, had died from coronavirus, according to multiple Facebook posts. I also noted that at that time, conference guests had not been notified of their possible exposure, and that Phil Johnson, one of the speakers at the Shepherds’ Conference, had deleted a Facebook post Thursday evening, telling people about Kolomiytsev’s death from COVID-19. 

Saturday afternoon, Johnson responded to an inquiry I had sent that morning, saying he had deleted the post because a friend close to the family had said that the cause of death was not confirmed. I then updated my story to reflect the new information.

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The Shepherd’s Conference sent an email to conference guests later Saturday afternoon, informing them that a 90-year-old Shepherds’ Conference guest had recently passed away, but added that doctors who treated him had not confirmed that his death was due to coronavirus.

Today’s email from the Shepherd’s Conference encourages guests to “take the necessary steps to ensure your personal health.” However, it notes that conference guests would be outside the incubation period set by the CDC for COVID-19 since the conference was held March 4-6.

UPDATE: Ray Kulper, a 79-year-old Oregon resident who attended Shepherd’s Conference, died March 28, 2020. According to Kulper’s daughter, Katarina Dooman, Kulper died from COVID, which he had “contracted while attending the shepherding conference.”

COVID Confirmation_Shepherds’ Conference 2020_Redacted




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16 Responses

  1. Ren, it looks like you got tired and didn’t read the entire article from beginning to end. Both PJ and Lance Roberts; a friend of Alexey who’s dad attended the SC and later died from the virus; DELETED their original FB post. Why the cover-up? This is ShepherdGate. You should commend Julie as the Bob Woodward in Christian investigating reporting.

    1. I’m sorry. But you are kidding right? Julie is NOT a reporter. She is an embarrassment on so very many levels.
      She admits in her response below that she jumps to conclusions and chooses not to abide by any set of integrity or standards as a reporter. She is vindictive and a Pharisee who “needs” to create stories like the National Enquirer needs aliens (or the Kardashian’s).
      So that is why I’m sure that you must have been joking. Good one. Her reporting is being recognized though… by the friendly atheist who appreciated one of her stories. She should be super proud!

      1. Gene,
        You are not taking the CV-19 epidemic seriously and prefer to speculate and attack Julie Roy’s reporting. I am confident that many people including the 5000+ SC attendees appreciate her proactive and preventive investigation. Since you mentioned the National Enquirer (NE), I assume you are on staff, a stockholder and/ or a lifetime subscriber of this magazine. Please allow me to share with you since you wont read this in the NE. Both Italy and China have over 3000+ deaths, The U.S. stock market, economy and church giving is down. Businesses, schools, churches and Christian ministries are closed. SC had an obligation and responsibility to forewarn it’s 5000+ attendees the possibility of a suspected CV-19 death. This would have prevented the attendees in spreading the virus and self-quarantine until more information was provided. In January 2020, the Dept. of Agriculture and a Chicago packing company recalled ground beef due to the POSSIBILITY of contamination. ( It is better to be safe than sorry. BTW your BFF Jim Bakker was selling a cure.

  2. I feel that Julie does very credible, in depth research and honest reporting providing a much needed service to the evangelical church. Since so much Christian TV is broadcast into Canada, as a Canadian I greatly appreciate someone who gives effective oversight to the media.

  3. Rather than arguing whether and when to communicate a suspected case, the greatest issue was having a conference with 5,000 out of town pastors the first week of March!!!! How on earth could this take place????

    Perhaps you could get away with still hosting a conference at that time with a local community where there wasn’t an outbreak (you still shouldn’t have), but knowing it was conference with men traveling from all over the earth to a central spot??? It should NEVER have taken place!!!!!

    1. The Shepherd’s Conference should have been cancelled, or held virtually. By March 2020 it was known what this virus does and how it spreads. GTY sinned by holding the conference.

      1. To be fair, I attended a concert on March 8th and flew internationally March 9th… it wasn’t until late on March 10th that most of the US was alerted to how significant and widespread the concern of Covid was.

  4. I deleted it because it was nasty and full of name-calling. But fine, I’ll leave your reposting of it up.

    If I had to do it over again, I would have waited longer before publishing on Saturday to give Phil Johnson more time to respond. But I had reached out to him almost a month earlier on another story about Grace to You finances and he had not replied, so I didn’t expect he would reply this time. And I didn’t notice the message that he has on messenger. I just saw that he’s active on FB and assumed he checked his messages. I can own that, though. That was my mistake and not my usual practice and I’m sorry I didn’t give Johnson more time or search more for his email address.

    That being said, I was very concerned that 5,000 conference guests, spread throughout the globe, might have been exposed to COVID-19 and were not being notified. As National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci has said, “(I)f it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing.” This is a time of crisis, and I’d rather err to the side of informing people than not.

    Also, I called Grace Community Church and then emailed the address the church gave on the phone message as a contact. I also emailed John MacArthur directly. To date, neither has replied. Also, Shepherds’ Conference did not send me either updates that they posted on both Saturday and today, even though I had clearly contacted them, requesting information.

    1. Um… sorry ???? not sorry ????

      Got it!

      By the way I opened my window and called out to Julie and she didn’t respond in time for me to type this comment ….

      What? It worked for Rocky. AND I was worried for the people who would be led astray spiritually… after all, Jesus said, don’t fear what they can do to the body…

    2. Thank you, Julie, for your integrity and admission of your own mistakes. I have followed your blog since the Moody fiasco, and, in my view, you are a good role model of a sincere follower of Christ. I appreciate all your hard work and clear love for Jesus and His Bride.
      Having spent most of my life in the evangelical mission community in two of the “poorest” countries of the world, Ethiopia and Bolivia, and now back in the US for almost 5 years, I am personally perturbed by this whole corona-virus thing. It appears to me to be mass hysteria, and a good excuse to implement a form of martial law and take away our constitutional rights as American citizens, all in the well-intended guise of protecting the vulnerable.
      I wonder how balanced the research on this virus really is.
      Fauci said: “If it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing.”
      If one is overreacting to something that is a TRUE threat, perhaps this is wisdom.
      However, if one is overreacting to “expert” research based on data that is either highly skewed or even false, that is dangerous and foolish.
      I wonder how much of a “crisis” this really is.
      I’ve seen many other “crises” that turned out not to be what they seemed at first.
      My own family was a casualty of our mission’s overreaction to a manufactured “crisis”. A crisis that was a blatant lie, and the trusted expert’s opinion and actions destroyed a front-line church community. The community remains in crisis today, almost 5 years later, due to that overreaction.
      I wonder if the far more dangerous enemy to both the church and our country right now is our communal (naive?) trust of HUMAN “expert” research, opinion and projection.
      I know that humanity’s real enemy is not flesh and blood and I hope we are not forgetting the OTHER unseen enemy in our panic about this microsopic created virus.
      Keep up your good work, Julie!

    3. Hi, Julie. Thank you VERY much for the work you do on this blog and your podcast. I’ve read most of your posts and articles for the past two years and you have always struck me as being honest and fair. Your commitment to integrity has been an inspiration to this (semi)retired pastor. The criticism of you in some recent posts seems unwarranted, and frankly, nasty. It’s uncalled for and not the way to treat a sister in the Lord who is dealing with very controversial matters. Keep your chin up. And your armor on. You’re in the thick of spiritual warfare. Doo Wop Coke Fan

  5. Finally, a comment that speaks truth. The comments people leave are getting more lame than doing any good.

  6. Still wondering how many of these foolish harassing comments directed at Julie are coming from employees that JMac may have hired from a Online Reputation Management Firm. My God people! A man went to this p.o.s. conference and now he is dead! And you want to snap at her about how she tried to contact JMac’s number one snake in crime? Really? This is way beyond ridiculous…

  7. GTY claims one can be saved after taking the Mark of the Beast. How can anyone give them any credibility?

    1. He says that because he already has taken it. According to the early church taking the mark was simply allowing your thoughts and actions to conform to this world. It is a symbol for what you think and what you do. JMac’s actions do not conform to Orthopraxy for you cannot make yourself rich by claiming that you are serving Jesus. Serving Jesus means that you cannot become a dictator, greedy, controlling, rude, arrogant, and a shameless self-promoter. JMac is all of these things and more, quite clearly…

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Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $50 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Ghosted: An American Story” by Nancy French.