The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live including how we practice our faith. With people staying at home to help stem the spread of the deadly virus, some thought that government-imposed health protocols such as physical distancing would affect religious practices negatively.
However, Christian leaders found that, instead of bringing down the number, the lockdown did the opposite and increased the number of Christians who became active in their faith.
In the UK, the Salvation Army Norwich Citadel reported that more than 2,000 people tuned in to its online Sunday services, compared to the usual 300 people who attended services in the church before the pandemic, reports Britain-based newspaper, Express & Star.
…far more people are connecting through media in these days and tapping into church than did before. —Major Mark Sawyer, Salvation Army Norwich Citadel
Major Mark Sawyer, the leader of the church, is astounded that their virtual services attract thousands of people. He noted that many of those who tuned online are new to the faith.
“I know from contacts that a good number don’t go to church or haven’t been for a long time, so definitely far more people are connecting through media in these days and tapping into church than did before,” he said.
Sawyer explained that the pandemic caused people to become interested in the bigger picture and what happens in the afterlife. “These questions which come up at funerals are accelerated in a bigger way because of the pandemic – people really want to talk about life, and faith, and spirituality,” he said.
The first online Sunday service of the Church of England got around 5 million people who watched and listened via Facebook and BBC radio compared to 871,000 Christians who attend worship services pre-COVID 19.
In Ireland, a recent survey showed an increase in religious practice, reports Catholic newspaper, The Tablet. Data suggests “surprising” numbers of people joining online worship services since the lockdown started.
“Moving faith online has created new opportunities for religious practice. In some cases, lay volunteers have assisted faith leaders in moving faith online,” said Dr. Gladys Ganiel of Queen’s University Belfast.
Nearly nine in ten religious leaders revealed that faith helps people cope with the stress and fear during this health crisis that is affecting the world. They noted the rise in the number of people who pray and those who are inactive in their faith are now tuning in to religious services.
Dr. Ganiel said the pandemic proves the importance of faith in a person’s life and in society.