Faith-based Organizations and COVID-19

CCIH Webinars

Strategic Engagement of Religious Leaders in COVID-19 Vaccination

October 12, 2021 | In this webinar co-hosted by World Vision and CCIH, we explored how faith leaders influence vaccination uptake and how we can engage them for even greater impact.

The panel included:

  • Ellyn W. Ogden, MPH, COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Delivery Unit – EOC Leader, USAID
  • Tom Davis, MPH, Global Sector Lead for Sustainable Health, World Vision International (WVI) who shared about a recent Barrier Analysis WVI conducted in DRC, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone.
  • Sara Melillo, MPH, Global Health Consultant, who shared preliminary findings from a new qualitative research activity exploring promising practices for engaging local faith actors to promote uptake of COVID-19 vaccination in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Indonesia, supported by the USAID’s Momentum Country and Global Leadership.
  • Rt. Reverend Dr. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa, Bishop of Ankole, Church of Uganda, who discussed his efforts to encourage vaccination and equip a cadre of informed religious leaders to urge communities to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The discussion was moderated by Susan Otchere, MSc, RN, Senior Director, Health-International Programs, World Vision US with introductions from Mike Odera, Vice President, Resource  Development, World Vision, and Doug Fountain CCIH Executive Director.

Please see the webinar recording on CCIH’s YouTube Channel to access links shared in the webinar. You may access the Slide Deck  from the webinar, which include a slide of sample Church of Uganda social media posts about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Church and COVID-19 Response: A Discussion with Global and Country Health Leaders

April 28, 2021 | Churches and faith communities have a very large role to play in informing and influencing communities on matters of health. This webinar featured speakers sharing their experiences with faith communities responding to COVID-19 and how they engage communities and faith leaders in education, support and response. The webinar featured:

-Jean Nyandwi, MA, Country Director for World Relief DRC.
-Dr. Monde Mqhayi, Member of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Women’s Manyano Wellness Committee

The conversation was moderated by Ruth Kayima, RDN, MPH, Health and Gender Coordinator for East Africa, World Renew. She is also co-chair of the CCIH Community-Based Prevention and Care Working Group.

Vaccine Hesitancy Among Faith Communities: A Landscape Analysis and Roadmap for the Future

April 29, 2021 | This CCIH webinar explored a recent landscape analysis on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and uptake in faith communities, supported by the USAID-funded project, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership.

Sara Melillo, Lead Researcher in the Vaccine Hesitancy Landscape Analysis, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership and Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, Immunization Director, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership discussed:

-How how we can better engage faith communities in immunization; sharing some key findings from a literature review and interviews with key informants in seven countries and with a number of international organizations.
-Evidence-based approaches to improve vaccine uptake in faith communities.

The session was moderated by Mark Chataway, Co-Owner and Founder of Hyderus/ Baird’s Communication Management Consultant.

CCIH COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Social Media Toolkit

CCIH produced a series of social media graphics on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a focus on enduring myths about the vaccine, including quotes and photos of faith leaders encouraging communities to get vaccinated.

Access the images here and share with your network! They are sized for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Collection of Simple Educational Resources for Faith Leaders to Share

Faith Leaders Speak Out on COVID-19 and Vaccination | This two-page educational sheet features quotes from faith leaders about COVID-19 and the importance of protecting yourself and your community from the disease through vaccination.

These short educational pieces are adapted from materials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and are intended for faith and community leaders and faith-based organizations to use with their communities to help them understand immunization in general and the COVID-19 vaccine.

CCIH Discussion Group

CCIH-COVID19 email discussion group for sharing news and resources about the COVID-19 virus, with special emphasis on the response from the faith community. Visit the Group Page and select Join the Group to subscribe.

Translations and Resources on COVID and the Vaccine in Multiple Languages

Resources from Language Experts at CCIH Member SIL LEAD and SIL International

Other Language and Translated Resources

  • Sermon Guide in Kinyarwanda: COVID19 Vaccine Lesson guide for Faith Based Organizations to be used during sermons or in community. Christian and Islamic INYIGISHO ZO GUTEGURA ABATURAGE KWAKIRA URUKINGO RWA COVID-19 Umukristo na Ubuyisilamu
  • Triage Card in Chichewa (spoken in Malawi) to help community health workers recognize symptoms here (Triage Card in English)
  • Education Materials from Samaritan’s Purse in multiple languages here
  • COVID-19 Health Literacy Project produces material on COVID-19, which are reviewed and vetted by faculty members at Harvard Medical School, and are created in collaboration with Harvard Health Publishing. Fact sheets are available in at least 30 languages here
  • Hesperian Health Guides has a fact sheet on the virus in 19 languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Urdu, Bangla, Filipino, Bahasa Indonesia, Farsi, Sindhi, Telugu, Hindi, Portuguese, Chishona, Swahili, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, and Lao, available here
    • Staying Well in the Time of COVID by Hesperian (also in Spanish) here
    • Breathing exercises to strengthen lungs here
    • Identifying if an illness may be COVID here
  • The Minnesota Department of Health in the U.S. has materials about COVID-19 in Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese here
  • The Washington State Department of Health and Seattle-King County Health Department have materials in on COVID-19 in Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese, and many other languages here
  • The Western New York Commission on Occupational Safety and Health has a very large collection of links to COVID-19 resources in many languages here.
  • The Presbyterian Mission Agency Presbyterian Disaster Agency has a resource on Preparedness For Pandemics to help congregations plan a response for worship and ministry continuation should the need arise. It is available in English, Korean, and Spanish here

Denominations and Churches (Sermon Guides)

COVID Sermon and Lesson Guides for Faith Leaders

  • CCIH Member CMMB (Catholic Medical Mission Board) developed the COVID-19 Sermon Guide in 2021 for religious leaders to use in preparing sermons and interactions with their congregations. The guide explains the dangers of COVID-19, how it spreads, how people can protect themselves and the people around them, with measures such as vaccination, masking, social distancing and proper handwashing. It includes two sample sermons that introduce the topics and relate them to relevant scripture. See more COVID resources from CMMB.
  • Sermon Guide in Kinyarwanda: These guides were supported by USAID and developed by World Relief in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health. COVID19 Vaccine Lesson guide for Faith Based Organizations to be used during sermons or in community. Christian and Islamic INYIGISHO ZO GUTEGURA ABATURAGE KWAKIRA URUKINGO RWA COVID-19 Umukristo na Ubuyisilamu
  • Faith Leader Lesson Series for Kenya: This series is offered by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with World Relief to meet the urgent need in Kenyan communities in preparation for COVID-19 vaccine awareness, access, acceptance, and follow-up in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines.

Tools and Denominational Statements on COVID

Anabaptist Statement and Resources: The Global Anabaptist Health Network (GAHN) released a statement on COVID-19, including vaccine acceptance and a Christian response to those affected by the pandemic in English, French (Français) and Spanish (Español). In addition, GAHN developed a brief list of helpful COVID-19 Resources in English, French (Français) and Spanish (Español)

The Anglican Alliance released a set of resources for churches that includes Spiritual and Theological Resources, such as prayers and Bible studies; guidance such as how to support community preparedness; helping marginalized groups; supporting people living in lock down; supporting children, and more.

The Canadian Bible Society developed a special digital edition of Words of Comfort to provide encouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Download the guide

The Online Faith Collective started in response to the requirements of social distancing during the COVID-19 response that keeps people from attending worship services. The site also has Resources for online worship and a way to add your suggested resources.

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College released these Resources for Churches. It includes: Preparedness Manual and Planning Template: “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual” and “Coronavirus Church Planning Template.” One of the unique features about this manual and template is that pastors and church leaders can download, complete, and save their plan digitally.

This Multi-faith Guidance for Faith Leaders is part of the Faith and Positive Change for Children partnership between UNICEF, Religions for Peace and JLI. e been prepared to guide religious leaders and faith communities on the key issues and actions that they can take in preventing and addressing the diseases and its secondary effects. ​Local partners are encouraged to adapt the guidance to local contexts and distribute them among their communities and constituents.

SIM developed How Your Local Church Can Respond to COVID-19, a video-based training initiative that is now available for local church leaders, church volunteers, chaplains and others responding to COVID-19. This training lends global voices – pastors, theologians and medical professionals from diverse backgrounds – to speak into four key module topics: 1. Churches Leading in the Context of COVID-19; 2. Community Spiritual and Supportive Care; 3. Trauma Healing;  4. Safe Practices for Community Care

The World Evangelical Alliance released Caring for a Family Member with COVID-19: A Guide for Church Education and Support,  a guide for churches to help families who are caring for a family member with COVID-19 at home. The World Health Organization recommends anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 receive treatment in a health facility. When this is not possible, these patients will be cared for either at home with their families or home alone. This guide is designed to help people who find themselves in such a situation. It is not a replacement for care from a trained health professional and does not suggest or imply that professional care is not necessary.

Care for Congregations and Reducing Stigma: Guidance from World Vision International

Faith leaders have a central role in guiding their members towards healthy behavior change and providing spiritual, pastoral and practical support to those in need. There are seven important actions that faith leaders and faith communities of all traditions can take to protect life, reduce the spread of the virus and keep the community strong. Each of these seven actions is described in more detail in World Vision International’s Guidance for Faith Communities

See resources on how faith communities can mitigate fear and stigma including helpful do’s and dont’s for communities.

How To Resources

Practical Advice on PPE in Low-Resource Settings

Thanks to SIM for sharing this very practical demonstration of how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers and how to make PPE out of commonly available items in low-resource settings. Deborah Eisenhut, MD of SIM shares her vast experience from the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the COVID-19 pandemic, including her firsthand knowledge of what works, and what to watch out for, when using PPE and training health staff. The video is full of very helpful and practical advice.

How to for Community Health Workers

This helpful Resource Packet has easy to understand instructions for constructing a Tippy Tap for hand washing, making face masks (with and without sewing), and how to triage potential patients. It was developed for community health workers in Malawi and is available in English and Chichewa. See Chichewa version

General Resources from Faith-based Organizations

Christian Approach to Vaccine Hesitancy from the National Council of Churches US

Research has shown that church and faith leaders can successfully encourage people to get vaccinated. Some religious Americans have indicated that certain religious approaches made them more likely to get vaccinated. The National Council of Churches produced a Fact Sheet: A Christian Approach to Vaccine Hesitancy to aid church and faith leaders in having courageous conversations about being vaccinated. The fact sheet also provides a scriptural basis for a compassionate response to vaccine hesitancy and provides responses to Biblical misinformation around vaccination.

Christians and the Vaccine Video Series

Christians & the Vaccine is a project of Redeeming Babel, whose mission is to provide “biblical thinking in a confusing world.” Redeeming Babel produced a series of videos addressing the most common spiritual questions Christians have regarding the vaccine. The primary goal is to equip pastors and Christian leaders to help others apply biblical principles to this topic. Based on these principles, Redeeming Babel encourages Christians to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Curtis Chang is the Founder of Redeeming Babel. He is on the faculty of the Duke Divinity School and is a Senior Fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary. His ministry experience includes serving as a senior pastor of an Evangelical Covenant Church in California.

The video series includes:

  • Introduction: Should Christians Take the Vaccine?
  • Is the Vaccine Safe?
  • Is the COVID Vaccine a Form of Government Control?
  • How Can Christians Spot Fake News on the Vaccine?
  • Is the COVID Vaccine the “Mark of the Beast?”
  • Should Pro-lifers Be Pro-Vaccine?
  • Should Christians Trust the Vaccine When the System is Flawed?
  • Can Black Americans Trust the COVID Vaccine?

Faith and COVID-19 Vaccines Analysis Matrix

Quick analysis guide on faith, COVID-19, and vaccine rollout. This guide from the Joint Learning Initiative (JLI) on Faith and Local Communities, Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and World Faiths Development Dialogue offers a series of questions for different actors to ask, allowing for context-specific analysis and solutions, and to act as a starting place for deeper engagement. Part Two presents questions for faith groups considering involvement in vaccine rollout.

TearFund COVID Vaccine Resource for Churches

This resource from TearFund Learn is designed to help church leaders and Christian organizations consider how they can apply their faith in a practical way and use their influence in society to:

  • reduce misinformation and confusion about COVID vaccinations
  • build a good understanding of, and trust in, the Covid-19 vaccines
  • help shape and support vaccination programs that are good for society, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized.

World Council of Churches Resources

The World Council of Churches has a COVID-19 fact sheet and other resources here.

Ecumenical Global Health COVID-19 Response Framework | The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the church’s prophetic voice and action and its unparalleled potential to demonstrate love and compassion. The World Council of Churches convened church and healthcare leaders from many countries to deliberate and develop a framework to encapsulate their engagement with the pandemic. This framework outlines intervention strategies for a variety of stakeholders, as well as a vision of churches that will embrace a holistic approach to health. This can be done through mechanisms that provide

  • People with relevant, accurate information
  • Communities with resources to promote resilience and independence in managing their health
  • Church-based healthcare providers with possibilities to assess and respond to health needs in integrated ways
  • More visibility to the vital role of church-based health care providers
    in their local health systems.

With that vision, the framework identifies core challenges and response strategies.

COVID-19 General Resources (Secular Partners)

CDC Resources

Resources for Communities and Faith-based Organizations, including a Step-by-Step guide on COVID-19 for Faith and Community Leaders.

Communication and Community Engagement

The COVID-19 Communication and Community Engagement Hub has blogs, programs, strategies and more related to communicating to and engaging communities in COVID-19 education, prevention and preparedness.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health curates COVID-19 Communication and Behavior Change Resources in the COVID Communication Network.

This two-minute video produced by the Global Health Media Project shows how COVID-19 is transmitted and how people can protect themselves. It is designed for Community Health Workers to share with others.

Health Institution Guidance

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Community, Faith-based Organizations including ChurchesHealthcare Professionals

Africa CDC Guidance on Community Social Distancing for COVID-19 to help communities understand the recommended practices to limit transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

World Health Organization: Latest Updates

Mental Health and COVID

Coping with Stress during COVID-19, a one-page tip sheet from the World Health Organization.

Managing Stress – For Providers and Community Leaders (From the U.S. Veterans Administration) Helping people manage stress due to COVID-19 (available in Spanish)

Mental Health America has resources for dealing with the mental health impacts of COVID-19 (with a focus on the U.S.)

Psychosocial Support and Guidance for Communities from the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and IMA World Health.

Psychological Effects of Quarantine – from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Two-page fact sheet on what public health leaders should know about the psychological effects of quarantine.

Reducing Anxiety and Stress: This guide offers simple, practical coping methods to help strengthen mental health and resilience and reduce stress. Please be advised that this guide is not intended to replace any treatment or other professional help you may be receiving or feel you may need. Created by IsraAID, Dr. Debra Kalmanowitz, and AllenComm, in partnership with Merage Institute and Foundation House.

SIL International and other members of the Trauma Healing Alliance partnered to provide Trauma Healing Resources specific to the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 Trauma Healing lesson can be used in a group (online), with your family, or by an individual – even by those who have never used trauma healing materials before. There is also a lesson for families for use with children, (Peace, Be Still…) The COVID-19 Trauma Healing Lessons can be followed effectively by working through the Beyond Disaster booklet. See the separate Leader’s Guide for help with that process. There is also a guide for facilitating these materials and healing groups using the online Zoom application.

Podcast Series on Faith and COVID-19

The Women Arise podcast series is hosting interviews with a variety of faith leaders to educate communities and dispel myths and misperceptions about COVID-19, including Christian, Islamic and Jewish leaders.

SMS Messages for Faith Leaders in Low-Internet Areas

CCIH partnered with HarperHill Global to collect mobile numbers to help people of faith and trusted community leaders share text messages in local languages about COVID-19 with their networks. Please use and share this form: to collect mobile numbers for faith and community leaders in those areas. Translations are available in a number of local languages. HarperHill Global was founded by Reverend Neelley Hicks, who employed this strategy during Ebola outbreaks to reach people who had access to mobile phones, but not the internet. Read about the effort during Ebola outbreaks.

Surveys of the Faith Community COVID Response

CCIH and JLI Survey

Faith-based organizations have critical links to religious leaders and faith communities who can play a central role in helping spread public health messages, and help people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic through trauma healing and spiritual support. Engagement with religious leaders and faith communities was game changing in previous epidemic responses, including the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. To identify how faith-based organizations are using their unique skills, assets and partnership to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and uncover unmet needs they face in their response, CCIH and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) circulated a survey through their networks in April 2020. The survey results reveal the majority of participants are responding, coordinating, and modifying programs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, although they face a number of challenges in doing so.  Survey Report

World Vision Faith Leader Survey

This report from a survey of faith leaders by World Vision outlines the unique and critical role that faith actors are already playing, shared evidence and learning from past responses, and makes key recommendations on the role they must continue to play as we enter the vaccine phase of the response.

Key findings in this report:

  • 84% of faith leader survey respondents reported sharing health and hygiene practices with their congregations and/or communities
  • 52% actively correcting misinformation about COVID-19

Tracking Religious Dimensions in COVID-19

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and World Faith Development Dialogue launched an online repository to organize information in several categories, starting with recommendations on reliable sources of information about the pandemic itself. The platform focuses on (i) responses to directives to limit physical gatherings and their implications for religious communities; (ii) specific practices and adaptations of practices, messaging and advocacy, and countering negative religious voices; (iii) specific outreach to vulnerable people and communities; (iv) major advocacy efforts linked to religious actors; and (v) reflections on long term impacts and lessons. Sign up for daily emails here

The platform includes the results of a consultation of representatives from faith-based organizations, including CCIH, and secular partners. View Summary