One letter can make a big difference


It’s not that hard. It’s Chance with a “y.” Chancey. Not Chaney. Not Chancy. Not Chauncey. Not Chandley. I’m not the Channel 2 weather man. It’s Chancey.

It might be simpler if it was Smith. But I guess Smith could become Smythe. Anyway, I’m used to people goofing up my name, but I had never lived around other Chanceys until I moved to Fayetteville.

Early in my ministry here, our church hosted a fishing clinic and I introduced myself to a guest:

“Hello, I’m David Chancey.”

He said “Hello, I’m Randy Chancey.” That was a first, to meet someone not related to me named Chancey. We said that both of our families came out of South Alabama, so we were probably somehow distantly related.

Later, for two years, our sons ended up on the same recreation league baseball team, so there were two Chanceys in the line up, Jonathan and Casey.

Fast forward several years. A preacher named David Chauncey came to pastor the Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta. So David Chancey is in Fayetteville and David Chauncey is in Marietta, both serving Georgia Baptist churches.

People started mixing us up. One day I got this email from an administrative assistant from some Georgia Baptist higher-up’s office informing me about a meeting for a committee that I knew I was not on.

I thought, “That’s strange. Maybe I got appointed to some committee and they forgot to tell me.” If I was supposed to be there, I certainly wanted to fulfill my commitment, even though I hadn’t made one. That was a pretty important committee and I’m not that important or connected to be appointed to a committee of that stature.

But the lady insisted that I was that important and that I was supposed to be there.

Then it hit me. I bet they think they are emailing David Chauncey and by mistake they emailed David Chancey.

So I emailed back and told them that I think they had made a mistake and that they probably wanted Chauncey from Marietta, not Chancey from Fayetteville.

After that clarification, the lady emailed back and admitted that she had made a mistake and that she did think she was corresponding with David Chauncey, not David Chancey. She apologized for any inconvenience. And I got to skip the meeting.

Several months ago, a pastor friend from North Carolina called and said he didn’t realize I had moved churches. I told him I didn’t realize it either because I was still right here at McDonough Road Baptist.

He said that he’d seen in The Christian Index, our Georgia Baptist state newspaper that David Chauncey from Eastside Baptist in Marietta had been elected to something important and he thought that was me and I had moved to Marietta.

I told him that was Chauncey from Marietta. I’m Chancey from Fayetteville.

It’s hard work explaining your name, and it’s amazing the confusion one extra letter can cause.

One letter left off can make a difference, also. Someone said that anger is one letter away from danger. How often has mishandled anger led to a dangerous outcome?

And you’ve seen the church bulletin bloopers. One worship order had these instructions: Ushers will eat latecomers after the morning prayer. That would encourage me to be on time.

A blurb in the church section of a small town newspaper read: A song service was hell at the Baptist church last Wednesday. Someone forgot to proof.

Another one read: Pot luck supper will be held Wednesday night at local Baptist Church. Prayer and medication will follow. Then the evening massage will be presented at 7 p.m.

One church bulletin announced: The choir will meet at the Larson house for fun and sinning.

And another promoted a guest speaker at a midweek program: Attend and you will hear a guest speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

What a difference one letter can make.


[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past the department of drivers’ services office and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at and “Like” them on Facebook.]