Worship Pastor Travis Blye is helping to lead the choir at Longview Point Baptist Church in Hernando in a new direction.
The Florida native has lived and worked as a minister of music in several places across the U.S, but he and wife Nikki and their family now call Hernando home.
Blye has broken new ground as a black worship leader in a predominantly white church in the Mid-South.
"I've been here two years come March 1," said Blye of his journey to Hernando, which began in his hometown of Starke, Fla., and then led him to Lynchburg, Va., where he attended Liberty University, and then on to a church in Knoxville, followed by another church in Amarillo, Texas and then Syracuse, N.Y., where he and wife Nikki lived for three years.
The couple has a son Carter Ray, 17 months. Daughter Callie is expected to be born around Easter time.
"By the time I was 25, I had been to 45 states and sang in 287 churches," Blye said. "During the week we did school programs where we worked to build character in children."
After interning at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., Blye was named senior worship pastor at a church in Amarillo where he helped to build that church's worship ministry.
Blye said praising the Lord in song is not just another way of worshipping the Almighty but a very important one.
"Music is a language of the heart," Blye said. "A lot of time music will touch the heart and articulate what you are feeling. It winds up being a prayer to the Lord. You are articulating honor and glory to Jesus Christ. There is a fullness of joy there."
Blye now leads the 52-voice Longview Point Baptist Church Choir.
"I love being a part of the worship of the church," Blye said. "The church is growing. We now have about 1,000 members and it's a trend that continues upward. We're now looking at having three services."
Blye said to be in a growing, dynamic place is exciting. His hometown of Starke was a town of about 5,000 people. Wife Nikki's hometown of Avon, S.D., was just 400 souls.
Blye is honest that when he accepted the job in Mississippi, with its racial past, he was slightly hesitant.
"There was just a little bit of misgivings," Blye said. "I told my dad that I was going to Mississippi and he said 'you know the KKK is there'. I said, 'Well, dad, the KKK is everywhere. It's where the Lord is leading me.' Where the Lord is leading you, he will take care of you."
Blye said he enjoys living in Mississippi and has fallen in love with the people of his new adopted town.
"It's been a transition in my life," Blye said. "I've come up against some racism. But that can happen anywhere. You know, it's amazing but since I've been a minister, the Lord has placed me in majority Anglo churches."
One of the greatest compliments Blye has received came from fellow church members, including one individual who happened to be white.
"They said to me 'we've been praying for someone just like you'," Blye said with a wide smile. "I feel like this is where God wants me to be."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.