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Worship leader for CrossPoint offers unique ministrycomment (0)

July 24, 2008

By Jeremy Dale Henderson

Bryan Haskins serves as minister to music and media at Argo’s CrossPoint Baptist Church. The St. Clair Baptist Association church’s members are mostly white.

Haskins is black. The grass surrounding the church is green. The sky above it happens to be blue.

On Sunday mornings, when Haskins is bringing the house down, details such as color are the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, especially the color of someone’s skin.

Senior Pastor Ryan Whitley nods his head to the beat, says “amen” and still can’t believe his good luck — it’s as if he’s found the pot of gold at the end of the music ministry rainbow.

“Bryan is one of the few guys I know who worships while he is leading worship,” Whitley said. “I know that is his job, but not all worship leaders lead the church to worship. Bryan does.”

Haskins has been at CrossPoint since 2006. 

“When God opened that door for us, we thought this was a big move for a primarily white congregation,” Whitley said of hiring Haskins. “Today we see just how much God arranged this relationship in a powerful way.”

Haskins grew up in a poor black area of Birmingham’s West End so notorious for crime and shootings that Birmingham television station WBRC once featured a neighborhood family in a segment called “Life in the ’Hood.” He remembers it well because the family, a single mother and three children, was his.

“My mother basically pulled all of us together and rooted and grounded us in the admonition of Christ and sent us all through school,” Haskins said.

After graduating from Ensley High School in 1995, Haskins attended Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham on a vocal scholarship and later Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.

After getting his degree in music with a concentration in vocal performance, Haskins accepted a job in sales with Bank of America and moved to Atlanta, where he served several churches in various worship-oriented capacities despite a hectic work schedule. But the company downsized in 2004, and Haskins returned home to Birmingham to pursue a dream: professional music.

“I hit the ground running and tried out for every television show I could,” he said.

Taking a cue from Birmingham-native Ruben Studdard, a high school acquaintance with whom he sang in a group called The Birmingham Ambassadors, Haskins tried out four times for the hit show “American Idol” in 2004. He finally made it in to see the judges at the Las Vegas auditions. Guest judge and recording artist Kenny Loggins said, “Yes.” Regular judges Randy, Paula and Simon all said, “No.”

“They said I wasn’t any different from some of the other voices they’d heard and that I wouldn’t be remembered, but Ruben told me later that Randy asked him about me. So I guess they did remember me,” said Haskins, who went on to tour with Studdard as a background singer.

But when Haskins’ wife, Charma, 20-weeks pregnant with their son, Lyric, developed a condition called incompetent cervix in 2006, he officially rewired his professional aspirations.

She was on her back in a hospital bed for two months, so for him, traveling to gigs, auditions and everything in between would have been impossible. Haskins said God used what appeared to be a roadblock in his career to put him on the fast track to the job he was meant for.

“My goal was to be a professional singer. I knew I had the chops for it. I went to school for it. I knew I had an ability and talent to sing, but God just didn’t see fit for me to be a professional entertainer,” Haskins said, adding God knew his wife’s medical condition was going to occur. “He just prepared me and set me up for what I was supposed to do in the way He wanted to, not in the way I wanted to.”

Whitley had met Haskins two years prior at a fall festival held at CrossPoint, where Haskins’ wife taught Jazzercise. When someone casually mentioned the possibility that the talented Haskins might work as an interim worship leader while the church continued its search for a permanent one, Whitley picked up the phone and dialed his number.

Whitley said within 10 minutes, he knew he wasn’t just talking to the interim worship leader. “I was speaking with our worship leader,” he said.

Despite the “credibility” regarding diversity and acceptance Whitley says Haskins might bring to the congregation, both count it as completely inconsequential.

Except for one thing.

“Ninety-eight percent of us don’t have enough rhythm to keep up with him,” Whitley joked.

Haskins added, “I know that people know that I’m black, but when we lead worship, we’re all one body. Nothing we do here is driven off one person. It’s not about me. It’s about God. It’s all about God.”

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