A love of God and people

Pastor Chad Chaddick welcomes his congregation to the Sunday service at First Baptist Church. Chaddick has been their pastor for more than two years. DAILY RECORD PHOTOS BY DENISE CATHEY

Editor’s note: This is the eighth part in a series profiling San Marcos’ diverse religious leaders and what they bring to the community. 

Following the directions given me by the lady I encountered in the hall, I made my way to the general vicinity of the senior pastor’s office. For the first time since the mid-60s when I was a member of the intelligence staff of XVIII Airborne Corps, I encountered an electronic activated lock. 

OK, security is on everyone’s mind these days, but I was somewhat surprised to find such precautions in the church. 

In response to my signal, a very young-looking gentleman approached the door and let me in. I assumed he was the associate pastor. 

“I’m Chad Chaddick,” he announced, “the senior pastor here.” “Here” is the First Baptist Church on McCarty Lane. Within the memory of many San Marcos folks, that Baptist Church sat on Hutchison Street where Sanctuary Lofts now sit. It was surrounded by residences, small businesses, traffic and pedestrians going to and from the university. 

Now, it is surrounded by white tail deer and woods full of smaller and less noticeable fauna, native to Texas. 

As Chaddick guided me to his office, some distance down the hall, I commented that he appeared to be unusually young to have the responsibility of a church, the size of First Baptist. “I’m 45,” he responded and with that bit of curiosity put to rest, we got to the interview. 

As usual, I began with, “Tell me about yourself.” 

Chaddick began, “I was born here in Texas, near Dallas, Forney, actually, between Terrell and Dallas. 

“But soon My folks moved back to Plainview, Texas, where they were from. Not long after, we went to Clovis, New Mexico and that’s where I graduated from high school. And that’s about as hometown as it gets for me.”

Tom and Judy Gautier laugh during the children’s service as they learn the origin of candy canes.

From high school, Chaddick went to college at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, where he planned to prep for a career in veterinary medicine. 

Then he revealed that ministry first became a serious consideration in high school. However, he was far from convinced that it was to be a career. Science and medicine seemed a lot more appealing. However, as luck or fate would have it, Chaddick admitted he never took a biology course. 

“I fell into the religion trap and so veterinary medicine dropped out of the picture and I started preaching at some of the small churches around the area. One church where I preached every other Sunday was in a very small town, aptly named Wayside. There were about 30 church-goers in that town. Half Baptist and half Methodist. So, one Sunday, the Baptist preached. The next Sunday, the Methodist preached.” 

The pianist was Seventh Day Adventist. She played for the Adventist on Saturday and for us on Sunday.

“Two very important things happened one Sunday when I was there. One, it rained. For dry-land farmers, that’s a God-send and I think they considered me good luck. The other important thing that happened was that my voice was loud enough that Willie Modisett could hear me. Understand, he sat in a back corner, as far from the pulpit as possible.

“Willie Modisett was about half deaf, but because he could hear up to half of what I said, and because it rained, I was hired as the Baptist preacher at Wayside. For the next three years, I was at Wayside every other Sunday. And, I want to tell you, I had no idea what I was doing. I began when I was a sophomore in college. I had not had a preaching class yet. But what an opportunity to grow.”

Upon graduation from Wayland in 1995, Chaddick attended Truett Seminary at Baylor University. The seminary was two years in existence when Chaddick began. Classes were held in the First Baptist of Waco and while there, he was enrolled in a mentor program. That is, he was offered an opportunity to leave academics and go work with another minister as an intern. Chaddick’s grandfather, a well-travelled minister who loved Europe had begun to establish a church in Belgium. 

“I thought working with my grandfather would be a great opportunity. So, I went to Belgium and spent a semester – spring 1997 – working with him. After graduating from seminary, I found a small church in Claxton, Georgia. There, I spent two years, when a church with which I had connections in the Panhandle called. 

“To back up a bit. While in school and while preaching at Wayside every other Sunday, I did some work for the Fairlane Baptist Church in Borger, Texas. In fact, I worked there for a summer as a youth counselor.

“I was not planning to move from the church in Georgia when I received the call from Fairlane to be their pastor.”

That was a propitious move for Chaddick. It was an eight year tour, during which, he met and married his wife, Marci. From Borger, a relatively small town in the Texas plains region, Chaddick was called to San Antonio, a metropolis of roughly a million and a half, in the north end of South Texas.

How did Chaddick connect with San Antonio, I wondered. “I had no connection with the city,” he replied. “Visited there a couple of times, but coincidentally, some of my friends knew some people in the city, and when Northeast Baptist needed a pastor, those friends contacted me to see if I would approve their presenting my resume.

“My reaction was, ‘What does God have in store?’ If He wants me to come to San Antonio, so be it.

“After seven years at Northeast Baptist, I received a call from San Marcos. And, it has been a good two and a half years here.”

I suggested that we had a chronological recounting of his entering the ministry, but I would like to hear the emotional, psychological and the conscientious reasoning behind his life choice. 

“I was dedicated and since high school, thought I wanted to be a minister. It took me awhile to completely recognize that and even longer to surrender to it. My grandfather, as mentioned, was a minister. My father was a CPA. But when we moved to Clovis, we were involved with the church and the pastor there recognized something that I didn’t. He put me in a responsible position with the youth and I enjoyed it.” 

Jacob and his father Bryon Turner stand on stage as his brother Lucas lights the next advent candle during the service.

The pastor saw something in Chaddick that he did not see in himself, apparently. But, getting to the almost imperceptible factor that drove Chaddick to his eventual life’s work: “When I was about 16-17 years old, still in high school, the pastor at the time said something I considered very insensitive and I thought at the moment, ‘I can do better than that.’ 

“That night after my prayers and devotional, I went to bed and before sleep, God spoke to me and asked: ‘That thing you said this morning, did you mean it?’

“At that point, it was much more than teenage bravado. It was put up or shut up. After I thought for a minute, I said ‘Yes, I can do better than that.’ And that was the first time I ever considered vocational ministry. 

“That was a distance from Wayside and subsequent experiences, but I began to pray about it and was motivated to treat my opportunities a bit differently. Went on some mission trips.”

Based on an earlier comment from Chaddick, I asked, “Did you argue with God about where you were going?”

“I did,” he said. “While on a mission trip to a Native American reservation, one of our scheduled leaders was called away by an emergency and it was his night to preach. My youth minister asked me, ‘How would you like to preach this evening?’

“Not tonight,” I responded. 

“Tomorrow night, then?” 

“I admit it was not the best sermon ever preached, but it was a confirmation. It went well enough to convince me that God was up to something in my life. 

“I did wrestle with God along the way, but I encountered another minister who mentored me. One day, he explained ministry as being very simple. ‘You just have to love God. And you have to love people,’ and I have never gotten too far away from that. Those are the two basic commands from the New Testament – love your God and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Chaddick readily admits that his arguments with God were contentious and it took him some time to forgo his pursuit of wildlife studies and science. And like Moses, he could not be certain he was capable, dedicated and smart enough.

Finally, God spoke to him and told him to just obey; do what was put in front of him and He, God, would take care of the rest.

These experiences seem to be pointing in one direction, so by the time Chaddick reached his sophomore year in college, he knew what he had to do.

I mentioned the hardships of ministry; the demands on time; the exemplary standards expected; the study involved and the pervasive public persona of self, spouse and children.

“It can be a trying career and one has to be convinced of the calling,” according to Chaddick, as he quoted several instances from the Bible. 

To continue the examination of the meaning of the “call,” which almost all ministers profess, Chaddick recounted that upon his completion of his studies at Truett Seminary, he was invited to continue toward the goal of a PhD which would most likely have led to a career in academia. So, it is not a question of what path “could” you pursue, but what course “would” you follow.

The fact is, Chaddick has his PhD. He has taught on several occasions, “But that is not where my heart is. My heart is in the church. I am where I am supposed to be. No regrets.”      

San Marcos Daily Record

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