In the past 36 hours, the landscape around COVID-19 has continued to shift and change rapidly. All gatherings of over 250 people have been recommended to be canceled and smaller gatherings are encouraged to consult with their local public health. In our own area Penetanguishene, Midland, Tiny, and Tay have all closed all public facilities and canceled all programming.
Specifically, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health has stated the following:
I call on all Ontarians to recognize the risk of attending public gatherings and to practice social distancing as much as possible until further notice to manage the spread of illness. Organizations that can take advantage of virtual options to continue providing services are strongly encouraged to do so.
After consultation with our board and our deacons about Covenant's response in light of all of these recommendations and measures, here is our plan for the coming days.
- We will be streaming our Sunday Service at 10 am at www.facebook.com/CovenantPenetang and we encourage you to stay home and participate online. The live stream can be viewed by those who do not have a Facebook account. We have not run this yet, but I believe there is even places for interaction within the live stream.
- We recognize that for some viewing a live stream is not an option and others may need the in-person gathering for the benefit of their spiritual, emotional, and mental health. The doors of 95 Robert St. will be open for those who feel they need to be there, however, we must insist that you remain at home if you have any symptoms of illness. At the church building, there will be no coffee and no children or youth ministry. We further ask those who come to honour each other enough to try to practice social-distancing (the encouragement is to keep 2 metres apart). This is not meant to give in to fear, but rather to act in ways governed by love.
- To help us respond to needs within our church family, our deacons have initiated an e-mail help like - [email protected]. If you need to simply talk with someone or have someone pray with you over the phone, e-mail this address. If you are self-quarantined and need someone to deliver something to your home, e-mail this address. Likewise, if you are able to serve by making a phone call or picking something up and delivering it to someone's home, e-mail this address to make your services available. I pray that God will guide us in sharing his love with each other in a time when it is so needed.
- We have activated an online method of connecting that allows you to text the word "Covenant" to the church number - 705-549-8477. You will receive a reply that includes a link with a number of ways to connect. You can ask a question. You can share that you're interested in volunteering for a ministry. You can register for our e-mail lists. You may now even make an online donation - a one time gift or a recurring donation (monthly or weekly) - using a credit card or VISA Debit card.
Our board will be meeting on Tuesday evening and will continue to prayerfully discern how to respond with love and wisdom in the face of so much fear. We appreciate your prayers for us as we meet.
It has been stated many times before, but in case you have not seen it, these are the recommendations for every Ontarian as we try to minimize the impact of COVID-19 - washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneezing and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay at home if you are sick. In particular, do not visit a long-term care, retirement home or other congregate living situation.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Peace to you,