A theological college in Connecticut has announced that it received a $5 million grant that to study the long-term impact of Covid-19 on church congregations and other faith groups.
Hartford Seminary, a non-denominational college is unaffiliated and offers religious training programs for several different faiths, including Islam.
The seminary announced on Monday that it had received a $5.3 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The money will fund a study titled Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations: Innovation Amidst and Beyond COVID-19. The project will explore how faith communities are evolving and adapting to the dynamics of the pandemic.
Early evidence has shown significant changes already. For example, many churches adopted digital giving platforms in the first few months. Others revealed that the hybrid church model (online and offline) is still highly desirable and likely will not change in the future.
"This moment is such a critical time for congregations. Suppose churches can leverage the creative adaptations in response to the pandemic. In that case, the struggles of the last 18 months might lead to the revitalization of spiritual and worship practices," said Scott Thumma, principal investigator for the project and the director of Hartford Seminary.
"Our team is thrilled to be given this opportunity to take an active role in tracking that unfolding reality across the United States. We deeply appreciate Lilly Endowment's faith in our project and our team's ability to undertake this vital exploration."
Hartford Seminary anticipates spending the next five years on this research project, where they will gather data and speak with religious leaders across the United States to "develop beneficial lessons and pathways for congregations in a post-Covid era."