This Religious Services in the Age of Social Distancing project sought to document and interpret the experiences of a diverse group of selected churches, mosques, and synagogues (‘religious communities’) across Rhode Island during the pandemic and during the ‘return to normalcy’ in the summer of 2021. The documentation of this unique period for people of faith will be a reminder that challenges can be overcome and can transform community dynamics. The project is grounded in empirical social-science research and aims to make accessible to a broad audience the findings of this research, as well as make the research more tangible and publicly visible through documenting and publicizing images of religious services in the age of social distancing.
By bringing visibility to the experiences of diverse religious communities across Rhode Island, a community dialogue about shared experiences among religious and non-religious organizations and their members across Rhode Island is fostered and civic life in Rhode Island is enhanced.
The Poster Exhibit: Each poster tells a story, of a person or community, finding both challenges and opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, of showing resilience and creativity in a time of evolving adversity, or of finding community when social distancing is mandated. At the start of the summer, when much of the research took place, restrictions were being relaxed in religious worship, following CDC guidance which no longer required masks to be worn indoors by fully vaccinated persons. At the end of the Summer of 2021, as this project was being finalized, the situation has markedly changed. The Delta variant is causing a spike in COVID cases across the US and Rhode Island was again designated a high-transmission state. In turn, religious leaders again are taking a more cautious approach to worship. As such, the situation is evolving.
The exhibit is now open and running to November 26, 2021, at Cranston Public Library. Please visit the project website to learn more about the project, the team, the posters, news, and more.
This project is supported by a CARES Act grant from the Humanities Council.