Robert Earl Chastain

Updated
06-28-08


Robert Earl Chastain

Veteran *** Minister *** Father

A Wife's Memory

United States Veteran

Bob in Air Force UniformBob was born June 7, 1927 simply Junior Chastain, but his family called him Robert or Bob. Later, he himself chose Earl as a middle name. As a young adult, he left the farm to work in the cities of Cleveland, Detroit, and Mobile. Movaline BordenIn 1949, he married our mother, Movaline Borden, also from Alabama. During the Korean conflict, Bob attempted to join the Marines. As is often the case with younger siblings in large families, he was raised more by his older sisters, Shorty and Blondie, than by his mom. So he filled out his paperwork and gave it to Blondie to send in. She wrote on the paperwork that he had a bad back, and so the Marines never contacted him. He did not learn of this for awhile, and when he did, he joined the Air Force.

When he was being inducted, he was asked whether he wanted flight status. The person in front of him answered No, so Bob said the same. As it turned out, he loved planes and was able to become acquainted with them in the Air Force. After his discharge, one of his life's goals was to become a pilot, which he did. First he earned his pilot's license at his own expense, though some family members ridiculed him for wasting so much money. Then the government picked up the cost of his commercial license. He enjoyed many hours of flying around the Southeast USA alone and with passengers. A dream come true.

He served in the Air Force as a medic at bases on the United States Pacific coast. Though he repeatedly requested overseas service, he was never sent. Bob has always been proud of his military service. He contends that the military made a man of him, and he has always loved the medical profession. In fact, he sometimes regretted that he did not pursue it as a career after his discharge. He had offers from two doctors he worked with in the military, but they were in Montana and Nevada, and he did not want to live so far from home.

During the Vietnam war, Bob's oldest son, Tim, was draft age. However, Tim developed strong theological leanings, of which his father was proud, but they included one belief of which he was not proud. In fact, he felt personally betrayed. Tim was a conscientious objector. Tim's stand was that military participation of any kind was inconsistent with Christianity, and he applied for a CO status that was not draftable. His stand, in case he did not receive the designation, was not to escape to Canada, but to serve jail time. However, he won his status and was free from government harassment, though he received plenty from other citizens. This pacifism was a source of shame for Bob, and as Tim developed his theology further, he abandoned the belief as well, but by then it was too late to follow his father's service to the country.

Bob's third son, Tracy, was the one to honor his father's heritage with military service, and he did it in the Air Force just like his dad. It was peace time, and he was stationed in Altus, Okalahoma. He did his father proud.

Free Will Baptist Minister

After his discharge, Bob moved with his family to Central Florida. They arrived in Ocoee in December of 1955. Tim was four years old, and Valorie was five months. Tim was born in Alabama, and Valorie was born in California while Robert was stationed there. The remaining children (Terry, Cheryl, and Tracy) would all be born in Orlando, Florida. When they first arrived, Robert and Movaline worked in the citrus industry, then Robert worked in auto mechanics and used car sales for awhile. From there he entered professional sales, working in several industries including mercantile and insurance.

Rev. Chastain studying for a sermon at Scottsmoor As a child, Bob was not religiously inclined. His one church experience of which I am aware was when he and a friend visited a church while service was in session. They walked in the door and stood there, not knowing what to do. The minister stopped his sermon and addressed them roughly from the pulpit, and they ran away. The story got back to Bob's dad, and he commented that he warned Bob to stay away from church or he would get in trouble.

As an adult, He experienced a conversion at Bethel Free Will Baptist Church in Ocoee, Florida, under the influence of Pastor Thomas M. Scott. Immediately, he began to be active in church music. He, his wife, and oldest son, Tim, formed a family singing group that sang regularly at Bethel, at other churches within driving distance, and at retirement homes. "All day singing and dinner on the grounds" was a frequent experience. Christian work became central to Robert's life, and during much of his adult years, he was a bi-vocational Baptist minister. He preached and pursued a sales career at the same time, but his heart was in Christian work.

Soon after his religious awakening, Robert accepted the call into ministry, at age 38, at Bethel, under Pastor Marlon Borden. In 1966, he moved to Fruitland Park, Florida, just north of Leesburg, in order to open a new sales territory for his company. Shortly thereafter, he joined with two older ministers to establish a new Free Will Baptist Church in Fruitland Park, meeting in an old Methodist Church building. Within a few months, the new congregation purchased a church building in the Edgewood Park area of Leesburg.

Robert had just begun preaching, so was junior to the two experienced ministers and expected to play a minor role. However, Rev. Johnson had strong convictions against working on Sunday, and Rev. Privett had strong convictions against smoking. Johnson was a smoker, and Privett owned a service station that was open on Sundays. One of them preached often on smoking and the other against working on Sundays. Even though Robert was a novice, he was elected as Pastor to the new congregation. He neither smoked nor worked Sundays, but had no great need to dictate such things to other people. He was successful in keeping both of the older ministers involved. He was ordained as a minister on January 7, 1967 by the Central Florida Quarterly Conference of Free Will Baptists.

Robert resigned the Edgewood Park Free Will Baptist Church after three years and became an evangelist, holding revival meetings in other churches, but in early 1971 he was called as Pastor to the Scottsmoor Free Will Baptist Church north of Titusville, Florida. The church grew and thrived, and Robert came into his own as pastor and also as a member of the Indian River Quarterly Conference of Free Will Baptists.

He was active in the Central Florida Conference when he was a member of Bethel, and later as a member of Edgewood Park, but he took on roles of leadership and influence at Indian River Conference. He became Assistant Moderator of the conference, and one of his key moments of influence was in regard to a proposal requiring all new pastors of the conference to have a Bible College education. Even though it would not affect him, Robert spoke strongly against it, because he felt that the call of God was as important to being a pastor as education. His view prevailed.

He was an active leader in the local church community as well. At a time when denominations tended to keep to themselves, he reached out to other churches with cooperative ventures. One of his greatest results was an annual combined Easter Sunrise Service on the waters of the Florida east coast. These were lovely affairs attended by most congregations of all denominations in the area. In this, Bob was ahead of his time.

When he left the Scottsmoor church and moved to Sanford, Robert was not eager to jump into another pastorate, so he preached as a visiting minister at a number of churches and attended Fellowship Free Will Baptist in the Orlo Vista community in Orlando, which was pastored by his old friend, the Rev. Hollis Motes. Rev. Motes has begun his ministry at Bethel about the same time as Robert.

In 1988, Rev. Motes became ill. It was terminal, and everyone knew about it. Interestingly, a number of preachers began attending Fellowship Church. These were ministers without pastorates, and it was evident that they were waiting for Pastor Motes to die. In a step to protect the church against conflict and predation, Rev. Motes installed Robert as Assistant Pastor and heir apparent. The plan worked. When Rev. Motes died, Robert became pastor in a smooth transition, and he pastored there about ten years before retiring permanently at 65. Since then, he continues to preach occasionally as a visiting minister and attends the Zion Free Will Baptist Church in Sanford, Florida.

Besides the Bible and music, the third great spiritual aspect of Robert's life is generosity. He was a generous donor to the churches he attended, but he had a special compassion for people in need. An example was a family who wanted to attend church, but did not have a car. Robert and Movaline would take two vehicles to church, and one of them would stop by to pick up the family. After a few weeks of this, Robert signed over to them, free and clear, the title to a car.

He helped the needy all the time. Sometimes, as a route salesman, his customers would not have money to pay for items previously purchased and would ask to skip their contracted payment. He would not allow it, as he had no such authority over the company's money. However, when they would give him their $10 payment, he would sometimes put it in his company pocket and give them $20 from his personal pocket. His generosity continues in his elder years.

The son who preserves his father's spiritual heritage is his older son Tim. Despite the unfortunate issue of military pacifism, Tim's life is centered around the search for truth and a supreme appreciation of the person of Jesus. Tim earned a BA in Biblical Studies, which is actually a ministerial degree, but he devoted himself to working as a layman in every church he ever joined. He has always been a lay leader and was always in demand as a Bible teacher. Tim also took some seminary courses, and has a library which contains a couple thousand Biblical and theological books. He also worked for more than twenty years in the Christian bookstore industry. His theological journey has been quite interesting.

Father

Bob Chastain and family Robert Earl (Bob) Chastain is father to the Brothers of Chastain Central. Robert was born in Alabama in 1927 and raised on an Alabama farm. He is an eighth generation Chastain, being descended from French immigrant, Dr. Pierre Chastain, who arrived in the colonies in 1700. His descent from Pierre is 1. Pierre; 2. Peter, Jr.; 3. John "Ten Shilling Bell"; 4. Elijah; 5. Edward; 6. William Howell (Cobb); 7. Silas Cannon. See also Eleven Generations. He has five children, eight grand-children, and three great-grandchildren.

His sons, along with his daughters, are devoted to their dad. He taught them to be honest and to be kind to other people. Four of the five children live within thirty minutes of Dad, and they visit often and are involved in his and their mother's lives. While Tim follows his dad's spiritual heritage, and Tracy honored his dad both by serving in the Air Force and by naming his son after his dad, Terry picked up on a different aspect of Bob's important values--mechanical ability. Whether it is old fashioned auto and lawn mower mechanics, general handyman skills, or more contemporary computer skills, Terry makes his dad proud.

Today, Bob enjoys retirement and lives with his wife, Movaline, in Sanford, Florida, and loves to tell stories about the past. His children are Tim (born 1951), Valorie (1955), Terry (1958), Cheryl (1960), and Tracy (1965).

Have a great day! ~The Brothers of Chastain Central: Tim, Terry, and Tracy Chastain

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A Wife's Memory

Recent view from Grant Avenue ApartmentMy husband doesn't remember what month he rented the California apartment at 701 Grant St., but it was either December 1953 or January 1954. We had the smallest little apartment. On the side next to the tracks, I thought I would never sleep through the night again, but it wasn't long before we never even heard the trains. We had a two year old son and needed a larger place, so as soon as the people next door moved (with whom we shared the only bathroom), we got that apartment. I don't remember what either of them cost, but I know it was reasonable or we would not have been there.

My husband was in the Air Force, and I was a stay-at-home mom. In July 1955, we were expecting our second child, so we needed a larger apartment. The largest apartment was under us, and it was occupied. So the apartment in the other building became vacant and we moved again. This time we only had four corners for each room, and we had a back door, a front door, and a back yard and front yard for the kids to play in as long as I was with them. Buster and Artis Ward, the people in the apartment next door to us, had a fenced-in back yard. They had two boys: one about three or four and the other about one and a half. The older boy was Danny, and he was a tyrant. When he got too bad his Dad would threaten to give him a bath and usually that would quiet him down. I can't remember what the little one's name was.

When our baby was born July 16, 1955 someone loaned us a bassinet which we kept in the closet most of the time. It was a closet with two doors (there were no doors on it, but there was an opening on either side), and as long as she was sleeping it was best to put her out of traffic. She was an angel. You wouldn't know she was awake if you didn't hear her cooing and trying to talk. We got out of the Air Force in December of 1955 and were already packed up and ready to go on his last day at work. I was at My Aunt Minnie's house in Stockton, and we had everything we could haul in the car. We had sold our TV, as it was almost new, but we just left the rest of the stuff. We had a washing machine that had two tubs. You would wash the clothes and put them through the ringer and into the other tub to rinse and spin them. It was old and weird but it got the job done.

We had the trunk of the car full, and the inside of the car was full up to the top of the seats. Our son was four years old, our daughter was five months old, and we were on our way to Florida--Orlando to be exact. My parents lived there and we could stay with them for a few days until we could find a place to rent, which took about a week or so. ~Movaline Borden Chastain

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