ERLC resources from the year of COVID-19

March 12, 2021

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. At that time, the novel coronavirus responsible for causing COVID-19 had spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan to every continent except Antarctica, infecting more than 121,000 people and causing 4,300 deaths. One year later, the virus has infected 118,908,424 people around the globe, killing 2,636,186—including 542,477 Americans.

Few of us had ever faced a crisis quite like this before, and were unsure how to address the myriad concerns that came with the pandemic. How do we decide whether to close our church building? How do we serve our neighbors who are serving from loneliness during a quarantine? How do we know we can trust vaccines that were created so rapidly?

Over the past year the ERLC has produced nearly two hundred resources to help families and churches answer questions like these. We’ve produced articles to help you stay informed about vaccines, identify potential threats to religious liberty, and learn creative ways to serve our neighbors. Here are some of the highlights from our coverage during the year of COVID-19.

Resources on serving our neighbors

“Neighboring is hard, especially in a pandemic,” said Stephen Stallard. “As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Yet, the challenges of a pandemic have many of us shrinking back from our neighbors.” Despite the fear, loneliness, and frustration that resulted from lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing, Christians continued to find a way to show love for our neighbors. 

Resources on church, state, and religious liberty 

“Ever since it first became apparent that efforts at ‘social distancing’ were likely to affect the ability of churches to gather,” wrote Josh Wester, “one of the first questions on the minds of many pastors and ministry leaders were concerns about religious liberty.” Finding the answer to such questions was not always easy. But ERLC produced nearly a dozen resources that helped pastors and churches think about how to comply with government mandates without sacrificing their freedom.

Resources for the local church

“I firmly believe that God places us in a community not just to cultivate people in the pews or seats of the worship center, but to be “salt and light” in that community,” says Rolland Slade, the senior pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, California, and the first black chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee. Since the pandemic began, local churches have been at the forefront of helping our communities. But our congregations have also struggled to adapt to the challenges that come from “doing church online.” ERLC created several resources to help church leaders think creatively about the problems they face during a time of pandemic.

Resources on vaccines

At this time last year, the National Institute of Health was announcing that the first participants in a clinical trial were testing a new form of vaccine using mRNA. A year later, almost 10% of the American population has been vaccinated. The rapid distribution of vaccines has been aided, in part, by churches across the country serving as vaccine sites. “Churches have often been a cornerstone in the fight against inequities and a trusted source of information and guidance during troubled times,” writes Deborah Barfield Berry of USA Today. “During the pandemic, vaccinations have become the latest public service in a health and economic crisis that has seen places of worship offer canned food, clothing, housing and other assistance.”

Throughout the creation and development of these historic vaccines, the ERLC has been working to keep Christians informed about such issues as how they were developed, how they work, and how to think about potential ethical concerns.