Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing.
That’s the thoughtful reminder gospel music star Sherwin Gardner is sending to his family, friends and fans here in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gardner, a worship leader at Bahamas Harvest Church in Nassau, Bahamas, finds himself a couple thousand miles away from his Arima hometown in the middle of an unprecedented global shutdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“My family is mainly in Trinidad and the United States. Through technology we can still help and connect with family and friends. Social distancing doesn’t mean emotional distancing family group chats are a good idea,” Gardner told Kitcharee via email on Friday.
The “I Worship You” singer said he is still adjusting to safety protocols when dealing with the people in his community who count on his visits.
“For me it’s difficult because I work in an environment where we are used to serving, helping and connecting with people consistently. Whenever I leave the house I carry hand sanitiser and wipes everywhere I go, but definitely (the best advice) is to stay inside as much as possible,” he related.
In an attempt to slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a 24-hour curfew and border shutdown in Bahamas earlier this week.
Here in T&T PM Dr Keith Rowley doubled down on current restrictions on gatherings and school closures by announcing come midnight tonight only essential service workers are to be on the roadways of this country. Other nationals will be allowed to leave their homes only to seek medical attention and shop in supermarkets, pharmacies and take-out food outlets.
Gardner urges those “forced to spend time” together to find creative avenues to make those moments meaningful.
“Be creative, have meaningful conversations, do devotions together and respect people’s space. To those forced to spend time alone, keep the faith. I know it’s difficult for some people, but I really hope that people take heed to the instructions given by the leaders and stay home because this is a very serious virus that is spreading very fast,” he said.
Sharing online with fans
Gardner has had to rethink the launch of his new album which is scheduled for this coming week. The lead single on the album “Good Oh” is already climbing gospel music charts across the globe and peaked at No. 3 on Kenya’s KissTV Gospel full 100 chart.
“It has been a journey with this album, but in my opinion, this is my personal best as I was able to merge praise and worship with my Caribbean sound and create a truly dynamic and powerful body of work,” he said.
Like nearly all music creatives around the world Gardner has had to cancel upcoming tour dates. He says he is putting his faith in his God to get him through these “rough” times.
“God is faithful. I know that this too shall pass and great things will come after this. I’m taking this time to stay connected to the Word and continue to create and write music that will inspire, especially during these trying times,” he said.
Despite the physical limitations in movement and restrictions in gathering he has been doing all he can to keep the fellowship going between his congregants in Bahamas and fans around the globe, he said.
“I’ve been intentional about posting more content and doing live listening parties, sharing the story behind the songs on the upcoming album, on Facebook and Instagram.
“Sometimes I go live just to “check in” with fans, share industry tips and even feature upcoming artistes. Soon I’ll begin a new series on my Instagram called ‘Something Old Something New’ (where) I’ll share my past material along with new music,” he revealed.
Sustained positive interactions are crucial to keeping morale higher and helping people to recognise that they are not alone in these frighteningly unprecedented times, he said.
Gardner urged readers to set aside time to check in with friends and family, especially those that live alone.
“A lot may not say, but people are struggling with situations at home and some are alone. When we stay connected, a phone call, a text, Zoom meeting, live teachings, and discussions, it helps people to know that they are not forgotten, and they are loved.
“Since Covid-19, we must find ways to connect with people every day. During this time people need hope and our faith is something we should hold on to; remain connected to the Source, the One who refuels our faith. Spend time in the Word and be reminded of His promises; choose worship over worry,” he concluded with an assured smile.