Rev. Dr. Wayne Chasney
Pastor Wayne began his ministry at Monroeville in August, 1993, after graduating from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA. Pastor Wayne has his Doctorate of Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a focus on ministry in the small church.
(Jesus) asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' (Mark 8:29a)
In his spare time, Pastor Wayne loves running, reading and cheering for the Minnesota Vikings.
Pastor Wayne is married to Rev. Wendy Schindler-Chasney, pastor of St. John's UCC, Milan. They have two daughters.
Sometimes when I am out on a long run my mind starts to wander in funny directions. Recently, for no reason I can think of, I started wondering why people choose religion as opposed to choosing not religion. Let me say these are just a few of the random thoughts that came to me and I haven't spent a lot of time developing any of them. I thought I would share in the hopes that it helped you think about why your faith is important to you.
For some, I think, religion fills a longing deep within a person, within what we might call our soul. St. Augustine said, "The heart is restless 'til it rests in God." We want to make a connection with the life-giving source of all that is, what Paul Tillich called, "the ground of being." Religion or faith helps us make that connection. Sometimes, when that longing is not filled with a sense of the holy or sacred, we seek to fill it in other ways; addictions, work, the self. And sometimes, it's only when those alternatives fail us that we turn to a religious faith.
A number of people have told me over the years that they turn to religion for their moral compass. Religion teaches us right from wrong. It also teaches us why right is right and why wrong is wrong, which can be helpful in situations where right and wrong are not clear-cut. Having a moral center can help us to do the right thing even when no one is looking, saving us from a ton of guilt.
Religion also provides a sense of belonging and community for people. The word religion has evolved from the Latin, "to bind." Religion binds us together and gives us a sense of identity and community. Unfortunately, this can be turned negatively as we pit "my" religion against "your" religion, but for many that sense of belonging is an important aspect of faith.
I also thought about the lucky ones who have had a direct (or maybe indirect) encounter with the divine. I don't know if this is common or uncommon. Sometimes we feel embarrassed to talk about these experiences because they are so unexplainable, but they are real to those who have had them and become a foundation of faith.
Those are some of the thoughts I came up with. And as I considered my own faith it I realized that I believe because of all of them. I long for a connection with the divine; I appreciate the moral grounding of my religious faith; I love my faith community and the support they give me; and I am a minister today because I experienced God's call. Each of these answers to "why faith" apply to me, and probably more as well. I hope you have found your answer, too.