About this project
Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations: Innovation Amidst and Beyond COVID-19 is an expansive, mixed-methods research project that seeks to thoroughly investigate the current changes and eventual outcomes of the pandemic for congregational life in the United States.
Generously funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., this is a collaborative research venture. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research is leading the project, but is also partnering with a wide range of knowledgeable scholars, trusted organizations, and national denominations. The project builds upon the Institute’s decades of collaborative research with the Faith Communities Today (FACT) coalition of over 20 denominational research offices across multiple faith traditions.
Recognizing the many racial disparities with infection rates and vaccine distribution, this project will oversample congregations of color and work closely with partner organizations to ensure that the intersections of public health, religious congregations, and race are accounted for within our research.
This website will act as a central hub for collecting data and research, both our own and from collaborating partners, on the evolving pandemic and how religious congregations are responding to it.
Use of our findings will be free and readily available to clergy, scholars, and the wider public to equip them with practical tools and resources.
Our Collaborators and Partners
The project is enriched by support from a variety of individuals and organizations, such as Faith Communities Today (FACT) partners, regional advisors, and other collaborating organizations.
We’re a team of congregational researchers, sociologists of religion, and collaborative project leaders with 40 years of institutional experience conducting research designed to help congregations flourish by providing data to support informed decision making.
Our Advisory Council
Our project is guided by the expertise of an Advisory Council comprised of 16 scholars and religious practitioners. They serve as a source of accountability, encouragement, interpretation of findings, and assessment of research implications.
Our mission is to conduct an expansive investigation into current changes and long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on congregational life across the United States. Through a collaborative, five-year research project funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, we conduct research and gather resources that lead to vital congregational practices—both our own and from our partners—into a centralized hub. Use of our findings is free and readily available to clergy, scholars, and the wider public to equip them with practical tools and guidance.
- Provide congregations with the data and tools to make informed decisions and identify generative practices as they navigate through and move beyond the pandemic
- Conduct research that reflects a representative portrait of the diverse and changing landscape of U.S. congregations and acknowledges the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) congregations and leaders
- Build a living repository of knowledge and resources for congregational resilience in the face of future crises
Our project is based on sound research principles.
We are committed to capturing data that is accurate and thorough, methodologically rigorous, both qualitative and quantitative, representative of the country and religious landscape, and both broad and deep in scope.
We collaborate to make our research stronger and our resources go farther.
We have gathered a cross-denominational, cross-disciplinary team of scholars, advisors, and researchers to inform and participate in our work—and there is a clear, welcoming invitation for others invested in this topic to join us in this endeavor.
Our research equips religious leaders with practical guidance.
We produce a steady stream of accessible resources distributed digitally so religious leaders can immediately benefit from our discoveries and make informed decisions for their congregations.
We are committed to representing the diversity of religion in the United States.
In light of the fact that the pandemic has affected congregations disportionately, we ensure that the intersections of public health, religious congregations, and race are accounted for within our research.
Our objective is the strength and sustainability of congregations in the face of future challenges.
This research project is not simply an academic exercise. Faith communities are the bedrock of religious life, and we are deeply invested in ensuring the vitality of our nation’s congregations.