With the coronavirus dominating the news cycle and heavy encouragement to work from home, here is your list of feel-good streaming to watch. USA TODAY
Myerstown pastor Bryan Stevenson was supposed to perform at a birthday party for his friend’s wife on Friday evening. Instead, he performed for thousands on Facebook Live in a social-distance approved concert.
Standing in front of a microphone at his home, Stevenson’s tip jar remained empty, and he didn’t get the applause he would normally hope for. But hundreds commented their compliments, and dozens took him up on his suggestion to order from local restaurants who are struggling due to the new coronavirus-related shutdowns.
Stevenson said he didn’t want to let the statewide shutdown get in the way of his concert. He even dedicated his second song – “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters – to medical personnel on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The connection between people is what keeps us motivated and what keeps us moving,” Stevenson said. “This isn’t any different, we’re just a little more isolated.”
Stevenson, who is a pastor at Fireplace Christian Fellowship in Myerstown and has six kids and 11 grandkids, plans to keep holding his virtual concerts. The show this Friday is dedicated to his friend Michael Ebersole, who has been in the hospital since February and is looking for help with medical bills.
Stevenson hopes his concerts kill a few birds with one stone: supporting local causes, bringing people together, and lifting a little of that coronavirus gloom that has settled over the region.
“It helped for that time to sort of … put our problems to the side and connect with people,” Stevenson said.
At home, but not isolated
Lebanon resident Mark Schappell spent weeks planning a surprise birthday party for his wife, Shannon, set to take place on Friday, March 20.
Booking Stevenson to play was a no-brainer, Schappell saiid. The two had met when Stevenson was the worship leader at Cornwall United Methodist in the early 2000s, and have been friends ever since.
Schappell had to tell his wife last week that the party he was planning had to be canceled – people traveling in from out of state were no longer able to make it, and restaurants were closed early last week to encourage social distancing.
Still, Stevenson was still able to dedicate “All I Want is You” by U2 during his virtual concert to Shannon.
Schappell said his wife was giddy when Stevenson started playing the song. It wasn’t quite the birthday bash he had hope for, but it helped.
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“Given the circumstances, it was the best we could do,” Schappell said. “Everybody is kind of cooped up and getting a little stir crazy … and I thought it was a great idea for people to connect that way.”
For Stevenson, doing the concert virtually wasn’t so different from his norm. He often plays at venues where he’s in a small room separate from the larger dining area, and he’s used to getting song requests via texts during his shows.
From the live-stream of comments coming in during the concert, Stevenson may have even gotten more connection than usual – one person commented that listening to the concert was helping them cope with their depression, and not feel so isolated.
Other viewers than replied to that person with messages of support, Stevenson said.
“When you are isolated you forget who’s out there and where they are,” Stevenson said. “We’re all going to get through this together.”
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