By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun
4:06 PM EDT, October 27, 2013
Rev. Arthur Eugene Jones, a former pastor of the Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church who also ran the Maryland Baptist Aged Home, died of pneumonia Oct. 21 at Northwest Hospital Center. The Owings Mills resident was 88.
Born in Norfolk, Va., he was the son of Arthur Daniel Jones, also a clergyman, and his wife, Mamie. The family moved to Baltimore in 1940 and lived in Baltimore County.
Rev. Jones attended public schools in Norfolk before earning a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in church administration from Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Va. Family members said he lied about his age — he was 16 — and joined the Army during World War II.
He rose to become a staff sergeant. Family members said that while was stationed in Okinawa, he became homesick and composed a song to steady himself. He brought back his composition, "In the Tabernacle of the Lord," after the war's end. It was performed at his father's church and the song was favorably received. It remains in the church repertoire.
He belonged to the family church, the Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church, a congregation founded by his father at 129 W. Hamburg Street in South Baltimore. The congregation outgrew that first home and relocated to Fremont Avenue. It is now at 2100 W. Baltimore Street at Pulaski Street.
"He cared about his community and he was compassionate man," said his daughter Catheline Henderson, a paralegal who lives in Owings Mills. "He saw all people without faults. He counseled people no matter their social status or income level. He always put service first."
Rev. Jones was a mainly self-taught musician who also took courses at the Peabody Conservatory Music. He played only sacred music and composed gospel songs, hymns, anthems and spirituals. He also trained church choirs and worked with his son, Jerome V. Jones Sr., who was a church musician. They trained a gospel group that toured Europe in the mid-1990s.
"In his 66 years of pastoring his congregation, Dr. Jones took his ministry beyond the brick and mortar by uplifting the people in the community, in the state and across the nation," said Rev. Guy Robinson, the church's current pastor.
Rev. Jones was a well known figure in West Baltimore.
"My father did not judge people," said another daughter, Diane Banks of Randallstown. "He might lovingly chastise you and he certainly worked for the people who sought his counsel. He would get up in the middle of the night to get someone out of jail. We in the family joked that he knew the court commissioners better than he knew some of his friends."
She said his influence was known in the poor neighborhood where the church was located.
"Even the drug dealers respected him. They did not sell drugs at the corner of Baltimore and Pulaski," she said. "The door to his study was always open. He spoke to everyone."
Family members said that in the 1970s officials of the Baptist Convention approached Rev. Jones to head the Maryland Baptist Aged Home, a nursing home that was chartered in 1920 but at the time was in need of major repairs after a fire. The home is located on Rayner Avenue in West Baltimore.
"They asked him to step in because of his leadership skills and his reputation for getting things done," Ms. Henderson said. "People were drawn to him. He could work a crowd."
She said he worked with public officials, including mayors William Donald Schemer and Kurt L. Schmoke. He also received help from James Rouse, developer of Columbia and other projects.
To help staff the home, he recruited members of his church. He also tapped volunteers to help with it.
Rev. Jones was later awarded an honorary doctorate from Virginia Seminary.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at the Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church, 2100 W. Baltimore Street.
In addition to his daughters, survivors include his wife of nearly 20 years, Lavern Singletary Henderson, the church's former Christian education director and a retired Social Security worker; an additional daughter, Towanda Bushrod of Jessup; and eight grandchildren. His previous wife, Clotelle Jones, died in 1992. A son, Jerome V. Jones Sr., a musician, died in 2005. A daughter, the Rev. Cynthia B. Jones, also died in 2005.
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