Luis Andres Henao/Associated Press
The wide empty spaces in pews between parishioners at a Sunday service at Zion Baptist Church in South Carolina's capital highlight a post-pandemic reality common among many Black Protestant churches across the nation. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, attendance fell 15 percentage points at Black Protestant churches after the COVID outbreak. Researchers say no other major religious group has registered a decline of this magnitude. Despite the drop, pastors and parishioners say Black churches remain fundamental to Black communities, providing refuge and hope, especially during times of challenge.