SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Catawba College: The Reverend Bobby Bonds ’53 of Kannapolis, N.C., was the recipient of Catawba College’s 2018 Church/College Award. The award, offered by Catawba’s Office of Campus Ministry and the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values, was presented during the 2018 Church/College Dinner, held December 4th on campus. The award and the dinner provide an opportunity for Catawba to express appreciation to representatives of the United Church of Christ congregations, Catawba alumni and friends who continue to support the long-standing relationship between Catawba, the Church, and Christian faith.
In accepting the award, Rev. Bonds confessed that he loved God, Catawba and people. He noted that interacting with people, even total strangers, gives him great joy and fulfillment.
Catawba President Brien Lewis made the presentation to Rev. Bonds, noting that he “grew up in a family highly committed and involved in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (now the United Church of Christ).” Rev. Bonds enrolled at Catawba where he was called to Christian ministry. As a student, he participated in the Adelphian organization for pre-ministerial students. After his graduation, he studied at Yale Divinity School, earning his Master of Divinity degree in 1956.
Rev. Bonds’ first pastorate within the Southern Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church was Zion Church in Thomasville, N.C. During that pastorate, he helped cut the timbers used in the construction of a new church building there. Rev. Bonds’ trait of pitching in and helping out in whatever way was needed, Lewis shared, “would remain a distinctive characteristic throughout his years of ministry.”
Widely known for his commitment for people in times of needs, especially providing ministry for the elderly, the sick, and disadvantaged, Rev. Bonds was heralded as “a compassionate listener who extended an empathetic heart and a generous hug.”
Rev. Bonds pastored the Brookford Charge, and then, Faith Church in Brookford, and at his home church of St. John’s in Kannapolis before moving to West Virginia where he completed a lengthy ministry at Christ Church in Martinsburg, Va., before his retirement. In retirement, he served four more churches on an interim basis. He championed better conditions for migrant workers, and worked diligently for resettlement of refugees from Cambodia.
He served as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol, and achieved the rank of Major.
Throughout his service to the church, Rev. Bonds remained devoted to his alma mater, promoting Catawba College in the congregations where he served, and encouraging students to attend. He was also generous with his financial support to his beloved undergraduate institution.
Devoted to his family, Rev. Bonds is married to the former Elsie Clapp, and the two are parents of two daughters and a son.
Previous recipients of the Church/College Award in attendance, or represented by a family member in attendance, and recognized included the late Claude Abernethy, Jr. (his son, Shuford Abernethy ’82, attended); Wade Hampton Shuford, Jr. ’50 (his daughter-in-law, Kathleen, attended); the Rev. June Grubb ’62; the Rev. Dr. Tom Hamilton ’55; the Rev. Larry Bolick ’70; Mr. Barry Leonard ’65; and the Rev. Dr. Donald Flick and his wife, Mrs. Joanne Flick.
Catawba College students involved in the Lilly Center’s Year of Inquiry program were participants in the program for the 2018 Church/College Dinner. These students included Paige Keaton of East Bend, N.C.; Molly Sue Harmon of Mint Hill, N.C, also chair of the Retreat Leadership Corps on campus; Curtis Carmack of Miamisburg, Ohio; Emily Hoffer of Palmyra, Pa.; Olivia Watts of Bedford, Va.; Weston Henderson of Wahlburg, N.C.; and Emory McNeely of Mooresville, N.C. The Reverend Dr. Kenneth W. Clapp ’71 is Catawba’s chaplain and senior vice president, and also directs the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values and the Campus Ministry program. Dr. Clapp is assisted in those programs by Shannon Axtell Martin ’08, director of the Catawba College Theology Institute, “DISCOVER,” and Johnathon Boles ’16, associate director of the Lilly Center for Vocation and Values.
The Chapel and programs of the Lilly Center and Catawba’s Campus Ministry will be positively affected by the results of Catawba’s current three-year, Mind, Body, Soul campaign. Two challenge gifts will be used to create a $1 million endowment which will provide operating funds for CAMPUS Ministry programs, including the Discover program, and for the creation of Catawba Community grants and leadership programs. One of these gifts will establish the Wade Hampton Shuford, Jr. and Joanne White Shuford Endowment. Mr. Shuford was one of the inaugural recipients of the Church/College Award and was predeceased by wife Joanne. The challenge gift from the Dayvault and Seiwell families will establish an endowment in honor of the Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Clapp.