The research team at the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education are excited to bring your attention to a new and important study. The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously had a profound effect on churches. The lockdown has severely restricted ministry in areas such as pastoral care, fellowship groups, and serving the community. On the other hand, for those with online access, worship has taken on new and creative forms over the last few weeks. Many clergy and ministry teams have risen to the challenge of operating in the virtual environment.
A link to this significant online survey can be found below.
As we pass the most severe period of lockdown, it seems a good time to assess how churchgoers have responded to the experience, and what they think the future might hold. How well have people coped with the pandemic? Has it strengthened or weakened their faith? How has it been for clergy and ministry teams trying to work in this new environment? How have those receiving ministry found this novel experience? Will virtual ministry become part of the post-pandemic landscape, and will this be a good move for your church?
Researchers at York St. John University recently initiated an empirical study of these issues in discussion with bishops, clergy and lay people in England, Scotland and Wales. Working with them, the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education at DCU is making this survey available within the Irish context. Together, we hope this survey will enable you to record your experience of the pandemic, the ministry you have given or received, and what you think will happen to churches in a post-pandemic world. As the Irish phase of the study commences, Dr. Gareth Byrne, Director of the MDCCE, explains “It is important to document the response of churchgoers to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on their faith lives and connection with Church. We hope to capture evidence of people’s experiences during this time, as well as indicators of possibilities and learning for the future”.
This is an online survey, which we estimate it will take you about 20-30 minutes to complete. Most of the questions simply require you to tick boxes, though there are options to specify your particular circumstances, and an opportunity at the end for you to tell us your views in your own words. Alongside questions about the pandemic and ministry there are sections which ask about you: these are important because they will allow us to see how the lockdown is affecting different sorts of people in different contexts.
The survey can be completed on mobile phones, though it is more quickly completed on devices with larger screens such as tablets or computers.
You can access using the following link: Coronavirus, Church and You Survey
Please forward this link to any churches or churchgoers you feel might want to take part in the survey and support this research. We should have some initial results within a few weeks and will make these available as widely as we can.
Dr. Gareth Byrne, Director Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education, Dublin City University
Dr. Bernadette Sweetman, Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education, Dublin City University
The Revd Professor Andrew Village, York St John University email@example.com
The Revd Canon Professor Leslie J. Francis, Visiting Professor York St John University
Full ethical approval of this study was provided by the Research Ethics Committee of the School of Humanities, Religion and Philosophy at York St. John University.