The coronavirus pandemic has prompted religious congregations to make sweeping and often unprecedented changes to the ways they worship and gather.
Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples have had to move quickly to adapt to social distancing to avoid spreading COVID-19, the illness resulting from the novel coronavirus. Houses of worship have been deep-cleaning their buildings, canceling in-person meetings and livestreaming services online.
A handful of American Catholic priests are offering drive-thru confessions, allowing their parishioners to take part in this important sacrament while maintaining a safe distance. Some rabbis are breaking with years of tradition by livestreaming virtual Shabbat services. And Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia have started delivering langar instead of having the traditional communal meal take place in gurdwaras.
As the virus spreads, it’s likely that it will continue to reshape religious practices across the globe ― especially as communities approach important holidays like Passover, Easter and Ramadan.
Here’s a glimpse of how people of faith around the world are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic so far.
Above: Don Giuseppe Corbari, parson of the Church of Robbiano, adjusts photos of his congregation at empty pews before celebrating Sunday Mass in Giussano, Italy, on March 22, 2020.
The Washington National Cathedral’s pews are empty as Sunday Mass is livestreamed on March 22, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Scott Holmer of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland, makes the sign of the cross while holding confession in the church parking lot on March 20, 2020.
Attendees distance themselves during Friday prayers at the Baitul Futuh Mosque on March 20, 2020, in London. The mosque usually attracts around 7,000 people to Friday prayer, but only a few hundred came this week.
A Sunday church service is livestreamed on a mobile phone on March 22, 2020, in Manila, Philippines.
Pastor Billy Jones of Northern Ireland’s Dunseverick Baptist Church leads a drive-in service as churchgoers sit in their cars in the church’s parking lot on March 22, 2020.
A woman sanitizes the synagogue at the Moscow Jewish Community Center.
Volunteers use disinfectant to clean the Wat Traimit temple in Bangkok on March 18, 2020. Wat Traimit is home to Buddha statues that are made of 11,000 pounds of pure gold, and it normally attracts thousands of tourists each day.
A member of Jesus’ Church, a nondenominational congregation in Cambridge, Maryland, prays in her car during a service at Great Marsh Park on March 22, 2020.
Rev. Carey Anderson preaches during a webstreamed Sunday service at First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Seattle on March 22, 2020.
A medic screens devotees with an infrared thermometer at the main entrance of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, on March 18, 2020.
Rev. William A. Mentz, pastor of St. Francis and Clare Progressive Catholic Church, wears a mask and gloves while distributing prepackaged Communion to parishioners attending Mass in their cars at a shopping center parking lot in Moosic, Pennsylvania, on March 22, 2020.
A volunteer from a COVID-19 prevention task force in Indonesia sprays disinfectant at Baiturrahman Grand Mosque as a preventive measure against the spread of the disease in North Aceh.
Parishioners hold up signs of “Peace be with you” from inside their vehicles while Rev. Rod Clark of St. John’s Episcopal Church holds mass in the parking lot of the church on Sunday, March 22, 2020, in McAllen, Texas.
Members of Church By The Glades advertise free toilet paper in Coral Springs, Florida, on March 19, 2020.