Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) graduates Chase and Katherine Connolly lend authenticity to the hashtag #relationshipgoals. Engaged in 2017 and married in 2018, they completed their undergraduate studies in pastoral ministry at the School of Bible and Christian Ministry on Nyack’s Rockland County campus. This year, the couple completed seminary studies together—Chase, who is an ordained Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) minister, earned his Master of Divinity and Katherine, the Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies.
Yesterday at the ATS Hooding and Commencement ceremony, Katherine received the John and Helen Ellenberger Award. The Ellenbergers have served as missionaries to Indonesia for over 35 years and are widely known for their humility and service.
“My husband and I plan to serve overseas in Japan with The Christian and Missionary Alliance,” Katherine shares. “This is something that God called us to individually, and then He confirmed it when the church we attended sent us on a vision trip in 2018 to Taiwan and then Japan.”
With clarity on the call to relocate to Japan within the next five years, they have not lost sight of more immediate responsibilities.
The uncertainties imposed in 2020 by the life-threatening pandemic only compounded the personal challenges the Connollys were navigating, which included housing and employment insecurity. Discouragement set in and doubt caused them to question their call to serve in ministry.
“As we wait on being sent and work on repaying our student loans, we plan to faithfully serve in our current context,” says Katherine. “Chase took on a new position this year as a worship pastor at Ridgeway Alliance Church in Armonk, NY and I became a live-in caregiver for a teenager with Down’s syndrome.”
She continues, “This wasn’t something I was professionally trained for and while I thought of all the things that could disqualify me, God had already qualified me for the role. From having no home and no source of income, God miraculously provided everything we needed. I am challenged and humbled daily to wash the feet of this child and to show the love and grace of Christ in the midst of his grief over the death of his father. My ATS degree trained me to serve in the Church. I think it also indirectly trained me for this position. I couldn’t do this without what I’ve learned from my seminary degree program.”
The Connollys have done more than earn degrees at Nyack and ATS. Faculty and staff have poured into their lives in a way that typifies how these extraordinary educators serve their students holistically.
“Dr. Stanley John really challenged me to think outside the box and to uncover realities within culture that really need to be addressed by the Gospel,” says Chase. “He taught me how to not only do this from an academic role, but also from a pastoral role. The world really needs God’s messengers who are well-equipped to see how God is moving here, there and everywhere.”
Katherine adds, “The thing that was most impactful for me was the intentional care and genuine concern that the faculty and staff had for me. These intentional friendships and mentoring relationships were life-changing and helped me to mature. Dr. Wanda Walborn has been a faithful friend and mentor since I was an undergraduate student. She continues to be a role model for me as a godly woman in academia and in ministry. For a time, I worked for Doctor of Ministry Director Dr. Martin Sanders and Associate Director Kevin Kriesel. Working for them helped me to mature and grow in confidence.”
She also mentions Dr. John as being key to the increase in her self-confidence. Ironically, she reveals, “I used to be afraid of Dr. John and this stemmed from my inability to see myself as competent. Dr. John was so helpful to both of us. My education has been enriched by sitting under his teaching. There are so many others that have changed my life while here at ATS. This is something that I am not sure I could’ve gotten anywhere else.”
As a married couple, working and handling the rigors of studying for an advanced degree—at the same time—how would they advise other couples considering the same pursuit?
“The main thing to remember is that you are a team and in it together,” Chase attests. “Have fun and plan study dates. Be sure to take breaks with one another that are refreshing. It is a journey in trusting God to supply our needs and all we can do is be faithful to what He called us to.”
“Capitalize on the opportunities where you can learn, serve and grow together because ultimately God will use the two of you, regardless of the kind of job or position you have. He’s called us to be us where He needs us.”