Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Quite a bit of ground to cover here in this month’s brief post! First, a few thoughts on a distant family member and his contributions to Churches of Christ; and second, a few thoughts on this blog and its place in what is shaping up to be a major season of transition in my life.

As to the former, I recently learned that I am distantly related to a well-known preacher who worked in a number of congregations of the Churches of Christ across the southeast throughout much of the twentieth century. John Olus Jones (better known as J.O. Jones) was born on June 19, 1910, and passed away on December 21, 1968. Jones, who was baptized in 1923, married Christine A. Woods in December 1934. They had three children, including the mother of one of my uncles by marriage–like I said, it’s a somewhat distant family connection.

Jones preached in a number of cities and towns throughout his career, including congregations in Alabama (Guin, Winfield, Birmingham, Mobile); Tennessee (Memphis, Clarksville, Kingston); Arkansas (Little Rock); and Florida (Hialeah). Aside from his preaching duties, Jones conducted several ministry radio programs, edited the Evangelist, and served on the Board of Directors for Alabama Christian College (the forerunner of today’s Faulkner University, which, like my employer, Amridge University, traces its roots to the 1942 founding of Montgomery Bible School). Prior to his work in ministry, he owned a cotton gin and was involved in lumber and life insurance to boot. Busy guy!

This image comes from Scott Harp’s Restoration Movement website, but can also be found in the Preachers of Today volume cited below.

Most of the information that I’ve been able to find regarding J.O. Jones comes from two sources. The first is his entry in the second volume of Batsell Barrett Baxter and M. Norvel Young’s Preachers of Today: A Book of Brief Biographical Sketches and Pictures of Living Gospel Preachers (a book which, fortunately, is available online for free via the HathiTrust database). This book, published by the Gospel Advocate Company in 1959, covers most of his career–up through his time in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he was working at the time of the book’s publication–and includes one of the few pictures of Jones that I’ve been able to locate.

The second source is Jones’s obituary from the Gospel Advocate, which was written by Rex Turner and published in the February 6, 1969, issue of the long-running paper. This obituary is included in its entirety (albeit with a typo listing the year of death as 1988) on Scott Harp’s website, which also includes a couple of newspaper clippings regarding Jones as well as directions to his burial site in Gu-Win, Alabama.

I have not been able to find many of Jones’s writings in my limited searching, but the Restoration Serials Index did point me in the direction of his contribution to the 1952 Harding College Bible Lectures–a lesson titled “The Behaviour of the Christian,” which can be found on pages 274-277 of the published volume. The book is not available online, though I have a scanned copy of those pages that I would be glad to share via email upon request.

And speaking of family, my wife and I are expecting our first child in the very near future! We are incredibly excited about Nathan’s upcoming arrival, but the reality of the matter is that I will need to step back from a few of my other responsibilities in order to devote the appropriate amounts of time and energy to family during this season of life. As much as I enjoy blogging here (and at the “other” blog), this is one of those pursuits that I will need to put on the backburner for the time being. I feel confident that I will return to blogging again at some point–I’ve taken a few breaks before and have always come back–but when that will be and what that will look like are still up in the air at this point. We certainly solicit your prayers as we prepare for parenthood, and thanks as always for reading!

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