As most of you are aware, we have moved into the "Red Zone" in Simcoe County. The current guidelines offer religious institutions the privilege of regathering at a limited capacity if they feel it is wise. The board has met to discuss what we believe is wisest for our congregation at this time.

Led by our commitments to be informed by trustworthy sources, doing what we can to protect our neighbours from the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent strains on our medical system, and embodying the love of Christ in our relationships with each other, our board has decided to continue our gatherings exclusively online at this time.

There are several factors that have gone into this decision.

  1. Our local medical officer of health has stated that, while we are no longer obliged to have a lockdown, his strong recommendation is to continue to practices staying at home.
  2. Our local case rate is still very high. (At the time of our decision, Penetang's rate was higher than the SMDHU average and 2.5 times the threshold between the orange and red zones.
  3. There have been increasing cases of the UK variant in Simcoe Muskoka, which initially seem to be demonstrating greater ease of airborne spread.
  4. We have no desire to get into a yoyo between offering in-person services and then closing down again. Our local MOH has said that there is a strong likelihood we will face another lockdown and, while we sincerely hope and pray this does not occur, that does not speak well to the risk level of our area.
  5. Many within our Covenant Family have a higher risk of COVID. Some of those are volunteers who would need to be present in order to regather in-person. The protection of our volunteers is of utmost importance and when we are in a high-risk area we feel this choice helps to protect our volunteers.
  6. Our online gatherings, while lacking some important things, are being engaged with well and are providing opportunities for interaction and unique learning that have been a genuine blessing.

As we move forward we are continuing to work to improve our online Sunday services. We are actively working towards running separate online classes for our Covenant Kids during the time of our morning service. We are working to add elements that will help increase a sense of intimacy and connectivity during the service. And, of course, continuing online with our gatherings does not preclude you from reaching out with in-person generosity and love to each other!

We will again consider when we might be able to offer in-person services at our board meeting on March 16, 2021. If things change enough that Simcoe-Muskoka enters the Orange Zone prior to March 16, we will reconsider things at that point.

We are grateful to continue as a family together during these challenging times. We look forward to our times online each week and we look forward to when we will be able to again be in person and embracing each other!

With thanks to God for you,

Covenant Board and Pastor Jon