|Alfred D. St. Amant, Jr. was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 16, 1910, to Alfred D. and Lucy Clifton Andrews St. Amant. He was the second child and oldest son of five brothers and sisters. He attended the public schools in Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University, from which he was graduated in 1931. He completed his seminary training at Emory University in 1934, and returned to the Louisiana Conference, where he served 45 years in the pastoral ministry.
The author of “The Imitation of Christ” wisely said, “Thou art not the more holy for being praised, nor the more worthless for being dispraised.” I know of no person to whom these words can be more appropriately applied than to Alfred D. St. Amant, Jr.—known to his family and friends as “Fred.” He never bent his convictions to win praise or approval, nor did he feel diminished on those occasions when, out of Christian convictions, he was forced to take unpopular stands.
My acquaintance with Fred goes back to high school days, but it was not until he was a student at Louisiana State University that I became aware of the strength of character that prompted many of his actions. At that time, he and another student protested and sought to avoid the compulsory two-year military service in the university R.O.T.C. Though they were not excused from this program, this action, undertaken as a young man, became typical of the kind of courage which was reflected in the 45 years of Fred’s ministry. His courageous stands on many issues were not taken because he had no fear. Rather it was precisely because he believed that the church of Jesus Christ, and he as a follower of Jesus, “must stand fast against evil regardless of consequences—and if I die, I die” that his actions demonstrated a rate kind of courage. In fact his stand against organized crime in Bossier City, and specifically against the slot machine industry there, did face him with very real physical danger and fear for himself and his family, but he never wavered in his opposition.
Two other characteristics, added to that of courage, seem to describe Fred St. Amant. He followed definite plans and procedures in his work and practiced self-discipline in his own life. These three qualities—courage, a methodical work schedule, and personal discipline--interfaced in such a way as to produce a predominant focal point in Fred’s life, that of Christian commitment. He was a worthy son of John Wesley and would have found his acceptance in the Oxford Holy Club, whose members were derisively called “Methodists” because of the methodical ordering of their daily lives. Fred St. Amant was like this. There were times and ways for fulfilling the responsibilities of a local church pastor, a conference member, and a husband and father, and those times and ways he kept with diligence.
Discipline was very much a part of Fred’s life, especially in practicing the stewardship of time, money and talent. Fred was a student and scholar. Even in his student days, he became an assistant professor of Greek. Throughout his life he disciplined himself to study, to spend time in prayer and meditation, to visit repeatedly in the homes of all of the church members, and to write out his sermons in the exact words with which he would preach them. In the later years of his life, when poor health made writing slow and difficult, he continued this practice only by God’s grace and his own “grit.”
Fred never served a large appointment—that is, in terms of numerical membership; but he and Margaret and their family went faithfully and eagerly to every church they were appointed to serve, aware that every church, regardless of size, is larger than the minister who comes to serve it. Consequently, his salaries were never large, but he and Margaret tithed their income faithfully, adopted and reared four children, and managed to set aside some “rainy day” savings. His challenges to high ethical standards in all Conference procedures caused his colleagues to give him the nickname of “conscience of the Conference.” His persistent agitations for justice to the small congregations of the Conference brought forth the present decimal system of appropriations. And the tensions of many a moment of conflict and animosity on the Conference floor were dissipated by his dry wit and humor with which he convulsed the Conference.
Some of the simple attributes which Fred revealed only to those who knew him best were a deep appreciation for the small gifts of daily living and interest in the seemingly insignificant mysteries of nature. The formation of ice on a pan of water, hints of forthcoming changes in the weather or the turning of the seasons all spoke to him of God, in whose creative activity Fred rested his faith.
Fred St. Amant and Margaret Elizabeth Telford were married a year after Fred’s graduation from Emory University. For 45 years they shared a life of devotion to one another and to the church, which both loved and to which they gave the full measure of their talents as pastor and wife. During the last few years of his life, Fred recognized the diminishing of his capabilities, but he continued, in his disciplined way, to fulfill his responsibilities acceding to the limitations of poor health only at those points where he felt his ministry would not be affected. When he retired in 1978, he became the Minister of Visitation at the Ponchatoula United Methodist Church. This was a ministry Fred loved and which he fulfilled to the utmost until he suffered heart failure and subsequent stroke. He died on June 15, 1980, at Baker, La. His four children—Mrs. Fred L. Boles, Sr.,; Mrs. Theodore R. Mattson; Alfred D. St. Amant, III; and James Nolan St. Amant—and his wife, Margaret, are joined by a host of friends—clergy and laity alike—who, though saddened by the ending of Fred’s earthly ministry, celebrate a life so lived in Christian commitment as to be worthy of the commendation: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1981, p. 176 By Mrs. G. W. (Estelle) Dameron|