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Counselor-pastor creates art with blacksmith skills

Blacksmith artist, counselor-pastor Chris Causey gives attention to process in his counseling practice, interim ministries and metal art.

Chris Causey
Blacksmith artist, pastor, counselor Chris Causey

As he works with steel, bronze or aluminum to create art that expresses a message about faith or society, he must be attentive to the process, using the appropriate amount of heat to shape the metal into the desired form.

“The end result may not be what I envisioned,” said Chris, who began in August as interim at Blaine UCC. 

“I have to negotiate with the metal,” he explained.

His blacksmith art also intersects with his counseling in an office in a 2,000-square-foot Tacoma warehouse that houses his blacksmith art studio, and the hand-woven-wicker studio of his wife, Peeta Tinay.

In his part of the warehouse, he has a counselor’s office with a carpet, couch, chairs and lights. 

“Sometimes, a conversation meets its limits, especially with younger clients,”  he said.  “At those times, the forge creates other ways of communicating.”

Chris also has a counseling practice with Youth and Family Services on Vashon Island.

Following childhood as the son of a Southern Baptist pastor in Florida and Alabama, he began his seminary education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decator, Ga., as a Presbyterian.  Deciding not to finish there, he spent 15 years as a clinical chaplain for hospice, eventually at Providence Hospice in Seattle.

He completed seminary in 1998 at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, and moved to Tacoma to serve as chaplain at Good Samaritan in Pullayup.

Chris also earned a master’s degree at the Leadership Institute of Seattle at Bastyr University in 2008 and is accruing hours to be licensed as a counselor, which he eventually plans to do full time.

Before going to Blaine UCC, he served a year as interim pastor at Fox Island UCC.

“As interim, I’m more attentive to the process than the outcome, looking at a church’s structure so it can function in a healthy way, so all voices are heard and so there is not a bottleneck of power,” he said.

To inform his ministry, he uses “the five developmental tasks of an interim’s work” from his interim ministry training:

1) To help the congregation put its history in perspective;

2)  To help them discover their new identity informed by their past and who they are;

3) To strengthen the relationship of the local church with the conference and national church;

4) To transition to new leadership, and

5) To help the church commit to support their new leadership.

He finds plenty of biblical imagery that is useful for people in transition in congregations and in counseling.

Chris first picked up a blacksmith hammer in 1988 in Mendocino, Calif.  A friend with whom he fenced as a sport took broken blades and bent them in a forge.

During studies at PSR, he worked two years in a blacksmith shop in Berkeley and was among the California Blacksmith Association members who spent a week those summers, working at “a sweaty old coal forge” at a pioneer historical center near Yosemite,

Now his blacksmithing is about art.  So he needs to understand both the process of art and the process of working with each unique material.

“A blacksmith has to work with the metal in the fire the least amount of time,” he said. “Steel can only be heated so many times before it degrades.  There is loss of metal each time it goes in the heat.”

Before Annual Meeting 2010, where he prepared a display of his metal art, Chris added polyester-resin color inside metal cubes and circles he made to form a cross.  Closing worship planners asked to use the cross behind the altar.

Another art sculpture he displayed was a six-foot dinner fork he calls the “Gluttony Fork.”  A bronze cross is on the end.  The inscription stamped on the side of the for, reads, “Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be eaten first.”

Chris  wants people to come to their own conclusion about what the piece means.

He also has a “Chastity Helmet” made for a Tacoma show on chastity belts to make the point from religion that “if the eyes sin, the heart sins.”  A screen covers the eyes, but one of his wife’s multi-color weaving designs looks like the brain “delightfully remaining the devil’s playground.”

For information, call 206-679-8722, email, visit his blog at or  visit


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © November-December 2010


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