Less than ten percent of U.S. Protestant churches held in-person Mass in April
During the month of April, over ninety per cent of Protestant churches in the United States did not hold in-person worship services due to coronavirus concerns and shutdowns, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research. In a report published last Friday, LifeWay found that only seven per cent of pastors reported holding in-person services on the 5th of April and the 12th of April, the latter date being Easter Sunday. The number dropped to four per cent on the 18th of April.
Although few of the surveyed churches held in-person worship, ninety-seven per cent had some digital alternative, a five per cent increase from March.“By the end of March, the gravity of the pandemic had changed churches’ behaviour across the nation,” said LifeWay Research Executive Director Scott Mc Connell in a statement.
LifeWay also found that most surveyed churches were in the process of planning out their in-person services, which were expected to return soon due to the lifting of restrictions. The report found that nearly a third of surveyed churches were planning to hold small in-person services first, while sixteen per cent planned to resume normal activities immediately.
In efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, most churches in the U.S. halted their in-person worship services, largely switching to online alternatives. A small number of congregations continued to hold in-person services, often adding protective measures like having people sit farther apart from each other and avoiding handshakes.
As many states are looking to ease restrictions on mass gatherings gradually, many congregations are weighing how they will return to a regular worship schedule. Last month, the conservative law firm the Liberty Counsel called upon churches to reopen on the 3rd of May. The organisation argued that churches were “more essential than ever,” but said that reopening must include “appropriate measures of sanitisation” and “social distancing between families.”