Thursday, January 4, 2024

Black Churches Hit Hardest but Show Remarkable Resilience in Pandemic 

Unsplash photo by Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

The latest Hartford Institute for Religion Research study reveals how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted majority Black, white, and multiracial congregations differently over the past three years. 

The study found drops in attendance, finances and clergy wellbeing were especially pronounced for Black churches. While 65% of white congregations say their finances stayed the same or improved since 2018, only 50% of Black churches could say the same. The report also showed a concerning 15% increase in Black clergy considering leaving ministry after weathering the strains of the pandemic. 

However, Black churches showed tremendous adaptability and commitment to pandemic response efforts – 99% encouraged vaccinations compared to only 53% of white church leaders. They also opened their buildings as testing and vaccination sites at more than double the rate of white congregations.  

The report praises the resilience of Black congregations in utilizing technology and continuing community engagement throughout an extraordinarily difficult period. It calls for increased support, both financial and through partnerships, to alleviate systemic burdens facing these vital faith communities.  

The Hartford Institute plans to continue releasing analyses on the pandemic impact on congregations, made possible by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.  

Please contact Dr. Watts for more details on the report, the study or to inquire about research collaboration opportunities. 

The Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (formerly Hartford International University). 

Read the full study here.