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.

  • New Cases: 1
  • Deaths: 0

February 29, 2020

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

  • New Cases: 38
  • Deaths: 1
A nurse treating COVID patients on USNS Comfort in April.

A nurse treating COVID patients on USNS Comfort in April.Photo credit: U.S. Navy

March 9, 2020

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

  • New Cases: 606
  • Deaths: 6

March 11, 2020

The World Health Organization declares a pandemic.

  • New Cases: 884
  • Deaths: 14

While many congregations had hoped that the summer of 2021 would bring a returned sense of safety from the coronavirus, the Delta variant coupled with vaccine skepticism and outright resistance plunged the country into a renewed sense of uncertainty. Even still, congregations found ways to continue ministries that respond to natural disasters and promote public health. The Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations project plans to continue tracking these challenges and the ways congregations overcome them. Check back regularly for updated research and subscribe to our newsletter to follow along.