Grant Avenue Baptist Worship Drummer Pours his Heart into Percussion

Photo courtesy of Arianna Stahlbaum

Music floods the ears of a congregation ready to pour out their souls in worship. A bass, guitar, violin, keyboard, a hundred voices, and a drum set bleed together to create beauty that tugs at heartstrings and brings peace.

Confined in a box on the carpeted stage is 31-year-old and father of three, Anthony Godinez, who is a self-taught drummer, the facilities manager, and the foundation of the worship team at Grant Avenue Baptist Church. 

17 years ago while living in Covina, California, he, his brother John Godinez, and his cousin Dennis Godinez decided to start a rock-and-roll band. His brother, being the eldest, chose to sing and play the guitar, while his cousin claimed the bass and left Godinez with the drums.

It took some time for Godinez to enjoy drumming. Being left-handed, he became frustrated with his bandmates for switching the set so they could play right-handed. “I spent a majority of my time trying to learn how to play right-handed because I didn’t want to have to switch the drums.”

With time he found a love for the instrument. “It is the idea of just making sounds. You just have all these drums in front of you that you can hit in different sequences and make sounds, different sounds and not have to focus on if it’s the right chord or in the right key.”

Once his kids were being born and his family began to grow, he took a five to six-year break, but now practices at home every day for at least an hour. Sometimes he will catch his eldest, Audrey Godinez, who has shown an interest in learning to play drums, watching him from the doorway.

Outside of church, he enjoys fishing and spending time with his family. Taking his kids out with their cousins on his brother’s boat has been a highlight for him. As of now, Audrey Godinez is interested in drumming and softball, Adella Godinez is pursuing singing, and Benjamin Godinez is living his best life as a toddler.

Four years ago, he moved his family to Corvallis, where his wife, Tatiana Godinez, met GABC’s associate pastor’s wife, Charissa Bernard while letting their kids play at a neighborhood park. The Godinez family went to GABC’s Harvest Festival, then started attending Sunday services regularly.

Growing up, Godinez was forced to go to a Catholic church by his father, which “definitely made me not want to be a part of it.” He did not enjoy the ritualistic aspect of the Catholic church and stated that going to church he, “[had] to wear a suit, and I have to do all these weird rituals, and stand up, sit down, kneel.”

Despite his dislike for church during his childhood, three years ago after attending his first service with his family, he felt that, “[Pastor] Don was speaking directly to us, felt like God was speaking to us, and just the people here. I just felt loved quickly.” The following Sunday, he and his wife decided to stay at GABC and shortly after dedicated their lives to Christ.

His journey towards being a drummer for the worship team began when he and the then associates, now lead pastor, Bryan Bernard and Godinez met up on a weekly basis. The worship team and Godinez’s past drumming experience was the topic of conversation one day, which led to Bernard nudging the worship team leader, Blane Higa, to talk to him.

The worship team was in a period of transition with people leaving and Forrest Ling beginning to take on being the team leader. Lead singer and guitar player, Blane Higa shared that, “what was the most concerning for me, especially [for] a new believer, is why we worship and make sure they understand why they want to play.”

Now after two years on the team, Higa sees Godinez as a leader. Ling remarked that, “He’s one of the most prepared every week [and] always brings a good attitude to practice and worship.

“We keep him in a cage for a reason,” Ling jokes.

As a drummer, Godinez is the foundation of the songs and has displayed dedication and discipline to learn each song, considering he cannot read music and is self-taught by listening to the sounds. Additionally, he can change the piece to his liking. “If I decide to change anything, people are usually pretty on board with it.”

Playing the drums for God, it gives Godinez a more intimate relationship with Him. His time practicing is his time to focus on why he is playing, and to make sure his heart is in the right place.

“It’s not just focusing on what my hands are doing, but you know it’s the whole thing: worshipping, worshipping God, praying, making sure you know, I’m in the right place, my heart’s in the right place, understanding every song and the lyrics and all of it.”

Three years ago, his brother John Godinez moved to Lebanon and came to GABC with Anthony and Tatiana Godinez’s encouragement. After some time at the church, John Godinez got saved, baptized, and became a member of the church.

Some struggles he has faced are finding the time to practice, making sure he is putting in the right amount of heart and effort, and learning the music. He explained that Christian music is more difficult to learn because the soundtracks usually have multiple drum sets.

Godinez realized after he began his journey with the worship team a difference from his previous playing, saying, “There was no feeling behind what I was playing ever.” He has played every genre, but despite thinking it was simple and boring, he now understands that Christian music is the most challenging music he has ever played.

“Physically and also just emotionally and feeling it actually has something to it now. I actually feel something when I play. I feel like there’s a purpose when I play. It’s not like before where, you know, you just had this structure and you were just playing the songs where it was like: verse one, chorus; verse two…”

Higa expressed that Godinez is, “Without a shadow of a doubt the hardest worker that’s ever walked the earth and I think that effort is also inspiring and uplifting, encouraging, and makes you want to try harder.”

Besides playing alongside each other on the church’s stage, Higa and Godinez read scripture together and Higa tries to give him tools to learn the Bible and be successful in his walk with God. “He works hard when life throws a lot at him. That guy literally beats through them.”