Congregations in the Time of COVID

January 2020 – Present

The Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations Project seeks to understand how religious congregations emerge in the years following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. While the coronavirus pandemic created many challenges for US congregations, 2020 was a chaotic year for far more than this public health crisis, and congregations responded in a variety of ways. Understanding the totality of these challenges is imperative for congregations as they begin to navigate life beyond COVID-19.


January 22, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 is identified in the United States.

  • Weekly Cases: 1
  • Weekly Deaths: 0

February 29, 2020

The United States records its first death from COVID-19.

  • Weekly Cases: 38
  • Weekly Deaths: 1

A Nurse treating COVID Patients on USNS Comfort in AprilPhoto Courtesy U.S. Navy

March 9, 2020

The Episcopal Diocese in Washington DC takes public health precautions, draining baptismal fonts and suspending communion wine.

  • Weekly Cases: 606
  • Weekly Deaths: 6

March 11, 2020

The World Health Organization declares a pandemic.

  • Weekly Cases: 884
  • Weekly Deaths: 14

At the end of March 2021, Gallup released a poll revealing that fewer than half of US residents are members of a religious congregation. After a year navigating public health restrictions, a volatile election cycle, sustained protests for racial justice, wildfires, hurricanes, and now with the emergence of coronavirus variants, religious congregations are only beginning to experience the challenges that will characterize the years to come. The Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations project plans to track these challenges and the ways congregations overcome them. Check back regularly for updated research and subscribe to our newsletter to follow along.