NO. 3 – FAITH – Seventy Times Seven A True Story from Ada Caston Slaton Bonds Memoirs

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The third novel in the Faith Chronicles is FAITH – Seventy Times Seven. It is a true story based on the memoirs of The Reverend Ada Caston Slaton Bonds of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. She was the first ordained woman in any denomination for the State of Louisiana and the sixth woman to be ordained in the United States. It follows the first two novels in the series, ADVERSITY – Keeping the Faith and The ROSE of Brays Bayou – The Runaway Scrape.

FAITH

Seventy Times Seven

Book 3 in the FAITH Chronicles
Creative Nonfiction – A True Story

 

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (KJV Matthew 18: 21-22)

Reverend Loyce Estes, with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the funeral services on December 23, 1969, addressed the congregation. “The dignified First Lady of the Louisiana Presbytery is dead. Vibrantly alive are the articles of faith that constitute our legacy. May her mantle fall on us prayerfully.”

Reverend Mrs. Ada Caston Slaton Bonds is one of the most colorful ministers ever produced by the great Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Beyond a doubt, she overcame more difficulties and passed through more heartaches than any minister ever known to preach the ‘Whosoever Will’ gospel. Miss Ada, as all affectionately called her, possessed countless prodigies. By way of the corridors of her ministerial career, she helped shape the lives and mold the character of a great number of young ministers, who, today, rise up and call her ‘blessed.’

God sent her His Divine calling to preach. She then learned to preach. She carved out a place for herself among the clergy that was unique, without comparison. With bottomless emotion, genuine poise, and true dignity, Miss Ada became the First Lady of the Cloth in the Louisiana Presbytery and had the highest honor bestowed upon her, the title of Mother of All Presbyteries.

Brother Kerans finished the Sunday morning services by calling on Reverend Paul Covey Johnson, standing by her frail and physical body, awaiting its final resting place in the Old Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church cemetery outside Coushatta, Louisiana.

He began her final epitaph. “I’m walking along the seashore. A ship is floating near to me, spreading her white sails as it begins a voyage that takes Miss Ada further and further out into the ocean. She’s a powerful vessel, one of beauty and strength. I watch her until she looks like a disappearing speck of a fluffy cloud where the horizon of the sea and sky intermingle with one another.

Then I realized her diminished size is in me, not in her. ‘Look there…She is gone!’ Nelson, along with Ada’s brother Lilburn are standing together with eager eyes watching from one of the twelve gates to heaven. There are beautiful angels stationed at each of the entrances. Looking more closely, she sees her mother and father standing near Lilburn. There are smiles on all of their faces and a happy and content look to their demeanor, standing and waiting there to take up the welcomed shout: ‘HERE SHE COMES!’

Many times throughout the writing of her memoirs, I discussed Ada’s unlimited ability to find forgiveness with my wife, Barbara. I finally came to grips for the first time with answers to questions about her continuing to remain in such an abusive marriage. I came to respect her inner strength, her compassion, and her gentleness. Never in my life have I delved into the scriptures and analyzed what each meant more so than when I put her memoirs on paper.

To bring these memoirs to a close, I attended the homecoming services at the Progress Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, as they celebrated their 100th Anniversary. Miss Ada is still spoken of highly. Her last letter written to the church on December 10, 1969, still hangs on the walls of the sanctuary. Brother Lawson led the congregation in the singing of many gospel tunes and delivered the Sunday morning message.

I close this description with a quote from Brother Lawson. “Miss Ada set the standards high for being a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. She was an anomaly for her time. Still today, we find the bar for preaching the word of God set high for all young men and women entering the ministry!”

If one listened closely, they would have heard the words echo from my namesake, Sidney Slaton, “Mamma Was a Preacher!”

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