North Philadelphia community celebrates longtime pastor beating COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than 1.1 million people around the world have recovered from the coronavirus, among them, a pastor from a North Philadelphia church.

An ensemble of horns echoed around the 700 block of West Allegheny Avenue in North Philadelphia Sunday.

Leading the symphony was trumpet player Jacob Hernandez. He was the one playing a medley of familiar music of hope and redemption, including "Amazing Grace."

"He's just a great guy, happy to have him back," said Hernandez.

The soundtrack was perfectly fitting to the signs many held while social distancing on the streets or in their cars to celebrate the man that looked on from above, Rev. Jose Montes.

"He watched us grow up," said Damaris Lugo.

Montes, of New Jerusalem Church in North Philadelphia, has been a pastor for more than 30 years.

"He means the world to us," Lugo added.

Now, after a nearly three-week battle with COVID-19, he is now home and the community he had served could not be more grateful, especially his daughter.

"It's just amazing to celebrate something positive during this time," said Naida Elena Montes.

Naida said two weeks after being admitted to the hospital, things were bleak.

Her father had a fever that wouldn't break. His lungs were filled with fluid and was on 100% oxygen.

Montes says prayers came from near and far and then something incredible happened.

"During that day, the worst of days, they said that was it for him. We prayed and we prayed harder and we felt a supernatural experience that night and the next morning he was up," she explained.

The community collected in their belief that there is strength in numbers and in their faith.

"Even though he felt like he was in a box and he was isolated from everyone, he just wanted to come home to see the people that he loved," Montes said.

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