Remembering an "Amazing Soul": Aaron Haskins Sr.

Aaron Haskins Sr.

By Tali Hairston, Director of the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development

“Violently blessed and abundantly graced” is the perfect description of my worldview going into 2010. Admittedly by the end of my brief essay you might wonder why.


Traveling from church to church sharing the story of the Perkins Center and what we see happening from the 30,000-foot level, confirms much of what Dr. John Perkins, Seattle Pacific President Philip Eaton, and I recognized very early. It is the reason my worldview it is what it is. In this work of reconciliation and community development, there are some of creation’s most vibrant and wonderfully hopeful leaders.


In the sports world, they are described as “impact” players, the kind of people you want to see play. As the director of the John Perkins Center, I see my daily life often filled with paradoxical ambiguity and the pain of disillusionment. And I also see people committed to this work who are simply amazing souls. One such soul was Pastor Aaron Haskins Sr. When he suddenly passed away on October 25, 2009, the Pacific Northwest took a huge pause to recognize and celebrate a true soldier, leader, impact player, and a true man of God.


Pastor Aaron Haskins was me before me. We often discussed how his position at Washington State University early in his career and ministry of reconciliation through the City Church and the Coalition for Community Development and Renewal, was (and is) a forerunner to the work we do at the Perkins Center at SPU. In many ways Aaron’s commitment to reconciliation made it possible for Seattle Pacific University to enter into the regional dialogue on reconciliation similar to John Perkins leadership and commitment allowed Seattle Pacific to enter into the national dialogue.


Along with several pastors and community leaders, Aaron encouraged SPU to build on the work of John Perkins for the betterment of the city. One image I will never forget among many great images is the towering, energetic, charismatically sensitive, and soft-handed horn-playing Aaron standing pillarlike next to the smallish yet equally energetic, winsomely poised, and verbally gifted John Perkins. In between them stood the indescribable Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner. My decade was complete.


Now we who felt the impact of Aaron’s leadership and deeply believe in the legacy Aaron left, must continue on with his passion and the commitment he modeled for us. It was Aaron’s daughter, Latasha, who summarized her father’s core beliefs for those of us who gathered at the City Church for his life celebration.


She said her father taught her (and us) to (1) love people, (2) seek to understand and not just to be understood, and (3) choose relationship over against just being right.


In a world of black versus white, left versus right, conservative versus liberal, dissension, resentment, division, and greed, the blessing that Pastor Aaron Haskins was, continues to be. As many great historians note: The ideas of great men live on. They live on because the greatness of that person will never be forgotten.


On behalf of Dr. Eaton and the SPU family, and Dr. John Perkins, we love you, Aaron. Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this wonderful man with us.

Author Tali Hairston has guided the Perkins Center at SPU since its founding in 2004. He is leading Seattle Pacific in a comprehensive initiative born out of a dream and a partnership between SPU President Philip Eaton and the legendary reconciliation advocate Dr. John Perkins.


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