Rodney Howard-Browne Biography, Tampa Bay Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne Wiki
Rodney Howard-Browne, the leader of a Pentecostal megachurch in Tampa Bay, Florida, has been arrested after continuing to hold large church services amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff announced on March 30 that he had obtained an arrest warrant for the pastor’s arrest. About an hour later, Howard-Browne was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center, inmate records show.
Although the governor of Florida has not issued a statewide “stay at home” order, local communities have taken steps to curb the spread of the virus. In Hillsborough County, gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people and residents are instructed to remain at their homes as much as possible. In the order, which can be read here, religious institutions are not included in the list of essential businesses.
Rodney Howard-Browne Family, Wife, Married
Rodney Howard-Browne was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His wife, Adonica, was born in Zimbabwe before her family relocated to Johannesburg, according to their church’s website.
Howard-Browne explained that the family moved to the United States in 1987 in order to answer a calling from God to spread the faith in the United States.
The couple founded The River at Tampa Bay Church in December 1996.
He wrote, “The Lord had spoken through Rodney in a word of prophecy and declared: ‘As America has sown missionaries over the last 200 years, I am going to raise up people from other nations to come to the United States of America. I am sending a mighty revival to America.’”
Rodney Howard-Browne Children
After getting married in 1981, the couple traveled around South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia as ministers. They had three children together: Kirsten, Kelly May, and Kenneth.
Rodney Howard-Browne Arrested
Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was booked on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of public health rules after flouting social distancing orders at The River at Tampa Bay church.
Howard-Browne—an ally of President Donald Trump—has been an outspoken opponent of social distancing requirements, claiming his church has machines that can stop the coronavirus and vowing to personally cure the state of Florida himself.
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week, in danger,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the press conference.
Howard-Browne did not respond to an immediate request for comment. He turned himself in to a neighboring sheriff’s office, was booked and released within 40 minutes, according to jail records.
Rodney Howard-Browne Tweets
Rodney Howard-Browne told his congregation during a service on March 15 that his church would remain open and that only the end of the world could force him to close it. He retweeted a portion of his sermon that was shared to Twitter from that day. The clip is embedded above.
Tweets by rhowardbrowne
In the clip, Howard-Browne urged everyone to shake hands. “I know they don’t want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people. Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them.” He reassured the congregation, “This has to be the safest place. If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble.”
Sheriff Chad Chronister Statement
Sheriff Chad Chronister of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office said his office received an anonymous tip that Rodney Howard-Browne was continuing to hold services with hundreds of people, even after legal orders were enacted barring large gatherings. The sheriff explained during a news conference on March 30 that law enforcement officials attempted to speak with the pastor at his church days earlier, but that he refused to see them.
Officials instead met with the pastor’s attorneys. Sheriff Chronister said the goal had been to “educate” the pastor about the “dangerous environment” he was creating by continuing to hold large services with hundreds of people packed into one room. Officials pointed out that Howard-Browne has the capability to broadcast his sermons over the internet, and therefore does not need to have services in-person during this pandemic. The River already streams its services online each week.
The sheriff added that other religious institutions have adopted this practice and encouraged their own congregations to practice social distancing. But Howard-Browne instead insisted on members of the congregation attend in-person and provided bussing to the church.