Report Reveals Disproportionate Pandemic Impact on Black Churches


In this May 9, 2021, photo, Rev. Joseph Jackson Jr. talks to his congregation at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee during a service. He is president of the board of directors for Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, which along with Pastors United, Souls to the Polls and the local health clinic Health Connections, is working to get vaccination clinics into churches to help vaccinate the Black community. He's also been urging his congregation during Sunday services to get vaccinated. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)
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(AURN News) — Black congregations in the United States have borne a disproportionate financial and mental burden from the COVID-19 pandemic compared to white and multiracial congregations, according to a report released in January.

The Understanding the Pandemic Impact on Black and Multiracial Congregations report was funded by the Lilly Endowment and led by researchers at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. It found stark disparities in how the pandemic affected churches of different racial makeups.

One of the key findings of the report underscores the financial strain experienced by Black churches. Between the summer and fall of 2021, majority-Black congregations witnessed a significant downturn in their financial stability compared to their white and multiracial counterparts. The disparity persisted even in the post-pandemic period, with 34% of majority-Black churches reporting worsened financial health from 2018 to 2023, as opposed to 28% for multiracial churches and 29% for white majority churches.

The report unveils a concerning trend in the optimism levels within Black and multiracial congregations. Over the course of two years, spanning from spring 2021 to spring 2023, there was a noticeable decline in optimism among these two groups, indicating the major challenges they continue to face in navigating the aftermath of the pandemic.

So, what about the mental well-being of Black clergy members? By spring 2023, Black clergy reported a decrease in their overall mental health, in stark contrast to their white counterparts who experienced an actual increase. The data utilized in the report draws from the Faith Communities Today (FACT) and the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations (EPIC) surveys.

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Jamie Jackson:

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