Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dr. Miles J. Jones

When I was a student at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, the highlight of the school year for the young preachers on campus was the L.K. Williams Ministers Institute. For many of us, it was a time when our pastors would come and check on us (I was in the minority in this regard, I was from Dallas and worked while in school) most times providing news from home, some monetary support but always providing encouragement. It was also a time when we would here some of the greatest preaching our church had to offer. We were blessed to hear absolute masters of the pulpit and their examples greatly enhanced the formal training we received.

We fantasized about participating in that week as preachers, presenters and facilitators of workshops on preaching. I'm not sure how any of my classmates felt when that time finally came, but when it happened to me, I was overwhelmed to say the least.

My first time participating in the Ministers' Institute was as a facilitator in a workshop. The instructor was Dr. Miles Jones, the esteemed and highly venerated professor at Richmond, Virginia's Virginia Union Samuel DeWitt School of Theology. He was a teacher, preacher and pastor and as a Bishop College product and a beneficiary of the wisdom and inspiration of past Institutes, this was a wonderful week. I hadn't been a pastor for long when I received this honor and the opportunity to meet and interact with Dr. Jones was a blessing.

The highlight of the week for me was when I got up enough courage to ask him to evaluate one of my sermons. He didn't do it that week, but a couple of weeks later he called me from Virginia, told me how much he appreciated my work, asked me about my ministry and spent time offering me encouragement and much needed counsel. I'll never forget it!

Dr. Jones passed away quite awhile ago, but this clip gives you a glimpse of the energy and sheer joy to be found in his preaching. While it doesn't altogether do justice to the message or the messenger, its a taste of what countless believers thrilled to when we encountered the Good News through him.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

He didn't sound like one of Cone's cronies. Also, no GD America. Was he a proponent of black liberation theology?

Gerald Britt said...

Anonymous 4:31

What is seriously pitiful is that there are those who assume to know the black church because they've read a passage of Cone and seen the clip of Jeremiah Wright. It's profoundly disrespectful and shows a great deal of ignorance about an institution that can be credited to averting an explosion of violent revolution throughout the history of this country.

To get to your question the black church can no more be captured by one view of its leadership personalities than the white church can be defined by Jerry Falwell or Pat Roberson, or white churches that have preached and practiced racial segregation and condoned bigotry and oppression in the past.

That being said, I appreciate the contributions of Drs Cone AND Wright, while at the same time having a deep appreciation of Dr. Jones and others of his preaching style.

Anonymous said...

It's also a shame that words have meaning. BTW there is no white church.

Gerald Britt said...

Yes,Anon 1:39, I know you love life in the land of denial, but there really are white churches (churches that are predominately or exclusively white); black churches (churches that are predominately or exclusively black); Asian churches (churches that are predominately or exclusively Asian); Jewish churches (they're called Messianic churches - they are predominately or exclusively made up of Jewish Christians);

The idea of saying that this isn't true in order to assuage guilt or invalidate the traditions and cultural expressions of those who don't share your perspective is disingenuous, intellectually dishonest, ecclesiastically in error and historically wrong.

You can't ignore the truth just because its inconvenient and don't like it.

Black churches (see the description above) exist because white churches (see the description above) kicked out black worshipers. It was a part of Jim Crow/segregation. The black church came about as a result of this.

Sorry you don't like history, but those are the facts.

The spiritual reality to which you at best refer, cannot deny the on the ground expressions of faith which are culturally and in some aspects theologically different.