Veteran minister, counselor publishes book

2/1/2011

Dr. Edwin Chase’s ministry has taken many forms over the years:  preacher, counselor, chaplain, columnist and now, author.

Dr. Chase’s recently released book, “God’s Relentless Love,” combines insight, inspiration and humor gleaned from his more than 35 years of practice as a minister and pastoral counselor. 

Having served at Americus’ Morningside United Methodist Church and Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah, Dr. Chase realized his calling into ministry while working as a busboy at Lake Junaluska’s Lambuth Inn. 

It was there, he said, that he started seriously thinking about going into full-time ministry.

Dabbling in writing during high school, Dr. Chase considered taking creative writing and journalism classes while a student at Emory University, but didn’t have the confidence.

“I wanted to graduate,” he said.  “I knew I could graduate if I majored in history; I wasn’t sure I could graduate if I majored in English or journalism.”

Following college, Dr. Chase pursued his calling into ministry by attending Yale Divinity School.  Upon his graduation from Yale, Dr. Chase returned to South Georgia and began his pastoral ministry. 

It was during his 14 years in the pulpit, 11 years at The Pastoral Institute in Columbus, 14 years as the South Georgia Conference pastoral counselor, and his stint as the director of the Family Institute and chaplain at the Methodist Home for Children and Youth in Macon that he honed his writing skills, publishing articles in various magazines and professional journals.  He also served as a columnist for the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, writing on issues related to marriage and family life.

“The Wesleyan Christian Advocate first got me writing,” said Dr. Chase, who wrote the “From the Counselor’s Notebook” column.  “I learned to write while writing for the paper.”

The written word has played a powerful role in Dr. Chase’s spiritual walk.

“I would say my reading has more profoundly affected my spiritual life than anything – reading and listening to good preaching,” he said.

It was through his reading of books by Soren Kierkegaard, Philip Yancey, Henri Nouwen and others, coupled with thousands of conversations with people that inspired Dr. Chase to write “God’s Relentless Love.”

In countless conversations, he would ask the question, “What are God’s thoughts of you today?”  That question would often take people by surprise, Dr. Chase said, but regardless of who he asked or their life situation, the answers were almost always the same.

“After asking that question thousands of times I kept getting the same answer – and it wasn’t good,” he said.  “Basically it would boil down to, ‘God’s disappointed in me and I haven’t done enough.’  They would say it in different ways, but that was the universal answer. Every now and then someone would surprise me and would give me a wonderful answer, but 87 percent of the time I got a negative answer to that question.”

Intrigued and heartbroken by the responses, Dr. Chase was determined to write a book that gave readers a fresh and true perspective of God’s love for them.

“In this book I describe three ways that God's love is relentless, coming toward us believing, hoping and enduring,” he said.  “Then, with scripture and experience, I depict four ways that many earnest Christians miss the fullness of God's love.  Finally, I invite believers to take some specific steps that will help them experience a more gracious God, one who actually likes them and delights in them.”

In reflecting on his own life and faith, Dr. Chase realized that when his relationship with God changed was when he got a fresh perception of God through scripture.

“For a large part of my life – even when I was in ministry – I thought that God just tolerated me,” he said.  “Being beloved is radically different than being tolerated. I’m not by myself in this; when I talk to other people I find the exact same thing.”

Whether from childhood or from other life experiences, “we get these negative images of God – we just pick them up,” he said.  “I want them (readers) to catch my picture of who God is.”

That picture is of a God who not only loves us but likes us and wants the best for us, he said, not of a God who is making a list and checking it twice.

Rev. Creede Hinshaw, senior pastor of Wesley Monumental UMC and a colleague and friend of Dr. Chase’s, has read excerpts from “God’s Relentless Love.”

“The parts that I have read are pure Edwin Chase,” Rev. Hinshaw said.  “This book is full of God’s redeeming and transforming love. If you know and love Edwin, when you hold this book you are with God and you are with Edwin.”

 

 --By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor

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