ST. LOUIS – Churches have been essential to the survival of the African-American community in this deadly COVID pandemic that’s hit minorities particularly hard.

The Black church was one of the only institutions positioned and trusted enough to address mind, body, and soul.

“We already had a relationship and you really can’t speak to people on a soul level without having a relationship,” said Pastor Charles Norris, President of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition.

Often, churches were prime places for food distribution, COVID testing, and vaccinations. 

When it came to services, many had to make changes like requiring stringent temperature checks to get in the buildings, masking, and social distancing. The churches also used technology to show services online.

Bishop Larry Baylor with Higher Ground International Ministries says there are a few unwanted drawbacks.

“Now people are so used to staying in church on Sunday with a cappuccino in their hand with their pajamas and watching the service and get back in bed,” says Baylor.

Pastors told FOX2 more than 60 percent of the Black community was touched in some way by the Black church mainly because it was the one institution they trusted to meet their needs in a crisis as serious and deadly as COVID.

“I think the Clack church has been a pillar of this community. When we needed the testing, they were behind us. When we needed the vaccine, they were behind us,” said Mayor James McGee of Vinita Park.