How to Donate and Support Local Places of Worship in Crisis During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Churches across the nation might be facing closure as donations fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Quarantine measures are affecting religious institutions' financial situations as parishioners are unable to attend services that would normally draw in contributions, according to a report in The Washington Post. While some have applied for financial aid through the Small Business Administration (SBA), some have not received the assistance they need to stay open.

The newspaper spoke to pastors in Mississippi who have seen dramatic drops resulting in staff being let go. While some are able to live stream their services to their congregation, there are aware of a digital divide for some who would normally attend.

Getty Images Church
The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie enters the chapel at St. James Episcopal Church to to pre-record mass on April 24, 2020 in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic churches have had to find new ways to bring service into their parishioners lives, affecting their donation intake. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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Speaking to the Post, Rev. Rickey Scott, a pastor of the 175-member East St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church outside Oxford, Mississippi, believes that only about "half of the congregation is connected." This is due to the region having poor connectivity as well as many people lacking the means to pay for devices to connect to the Internet, he says, with some being older and uncomfortable with the technology.

Other places of worship have also felt the pressure of social distancing. American Muslims were unable to make a pilgrimage to Mecca due to restrictions placed by Saudi Arabia in February and now also cannot attend Mosque during Ramadan, which started in the U.S. on April 23, 2020.

Those practicing Judaism have also had to sacrifice attending their synagogue for Passover, though have tried to find ways around it by using Zoom. However, they faced adversity from The Chief Rabbinate in Israel, who forbade Jews from using video conferencing apps for Passover seders.

Some religious have felt so strongly about social distancing restrictions such as a group of pastors and the Center for American Liberty. They have filed a lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom and other local officials, arguing that the state's "stay-at-home" order to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic violates the U.S. Constitution by "criminalizing the free exercise of religion."

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According to the National Congregations Study from 2012, just over half of the churches surveyed brought in less than $100,000 and nearly 4-in-10 (39.5 percent) don't have reserves. With people in quarantine, online donations could be a lifeline for religious organizations, however, the Post reports just 20 percent to stream their services and 48 percent were able to accept donations electronically.

How to donate to places of worship and non-religious groups during COVID-19 pandemic

There are several ways to donate to churches during this time of uncertainty, though the majority is happening online.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
How to Donate and Support Local Places of Worship in Crisis During the Coronavirus Pandemic | U.S.