James Addison Jones I: reasons for greatness – religious faith

Reasons for Greatness

No one could dispute that James Addison Jones was a great man. He was great in what he accomplished in the business world, great in his overcoming the handicaps of poverty and very limited education, and great in carrying on his home, church, and business affairs when his heart was heavy many times over the loss of loved ones. And, I think he was great in his philosophy of life–in his beliefs that he tried to live and to teach his children.

Mrs. Helen Boren Cloninger expressed her feeling this way:

“To me the biggest thing your father accomplished was the mark he was able to leave on his children. Do you know of a family whose descendants are carrying on in civic, church, and family, each in his own way, as you all are doing?”

While this is a lovely tribute to the whole family, as well as to our father, I doubt if some of us deserve it. Whether all of us deserve this tribute can be questioned, but no one can dispute that James Addison Jones tried to develop in his children the qualities he admired and the beliefs he held dear. I shall attempt to show some of the methods he used to train his large family, giving incidents where I can, to reveal his characteristics and philosophy of life.

Methods of Rearing His Children

Religious Faith and Devotion to the Church

Bishop Costen J. Harrell in paying tribute to my father at his funeral remarked,

“This sturdy American was also an humble and stalwart Christian. The care of his large and growing business did not cause him to forget life’s deeper concerns. He was in his own home a priest as well as a provider. Daily the members of his family were called together for worship. Persistently he kept before his children the Book that is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. He was at all times concerned for the life and expansion of the Church, was a generous contributor to her support and was many times called to sit in her councils. Being a man of stalwart and unpretentious faith, he was a true and devoted son of the Church of God. He was a good steward of things God trusted to him.”

My father was not only openly devoted to the Methodist Church, but he also tried to live his beliefs and tried to teach his children to follow his example. He attended regularly every service of his church and saw to it that each member of his family did likewise. Here I will give Berryman’s views on this:

“Our father and mother believed that their children should go to Sunday School each Sunday and take as much interest in their church as they did themselves. It soon became a MUST in the lives of the children, when they were able to enroll in the kindergarten department of the Sunday School, go every Sunday, and when they got to be five or six years of age, to learn to sit quietly in church during the morning church services.

Early in Dad and Mother’s married life, they made a decision to have daily family prayers together each evening, when possible. Each evening, before putting the youngest of the children to bed, they would gather the children together in the library room for family worship. Dad would read a chapter from the family Bible, and then he would lead us all in prayer on our knees, thanking God for the many blessings God had bestowed on his family, for work to do, for His Church, for the health and happiness of his family.

It was Dad’s and Mother’s simple Faith in their God and Creator, to whom they looked for constant strength, wisdom, guidance, health, and the will to do His Will. It was THIS FAITH, THE ROCK on which they both built a home and family ties, and it was THIS FAITH on which a small building contractor ventured forth into the business world. THIS FAITH stayed with Dad through all his years, and to it he gave the credit for his ability to build one of the largest construction corporations in this country.”

Photograph of Edwin L. Jones, Sr. holding a commemorative plaque honoring the Bronx Division of American Women’s Voluntary Services, J.A. Jones Construction Company shipyard, Brunswick, Georgia, 1943; Original photograph scanned by the Brunswick-Glynn County Library. Described by the Digital Library of Georgia as a part of Georgia HomePLACE: an initiative of the Georgia Public Library Service and GALILEO.

As a result (and a tribute) to my father’s devotion to the church and to the training he gave his children, nearly all of our large family have followed his example of being active in church affairs. My oldest brother, Edwin, has achieved even greater honors and recognition than our father did. He received the great honor of being one of the few persons named to membership in the Methodist Hall of Fame in Philanthropy. He has served the Methodist Church in many capacities for years. A few of these offices that he has held are: Member of the Council on World Service and Finance since 1940; Treasurer of the World Methodist Council; Chairman of the Crusade for Christ of the Western North Carolina Conference; and Chairman of the Lake Junaluska Assembly, Inc. And Edwin’s son, Edwin L. Jones, Jr. has followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, in being active in conference, district and local Methodist affairs.

Until the latter part of my father’s life, he held strictly to the view that dancing and bridge-playing were sinful and did not permit them in the home. However, Dad dropped his fight and objections to our having bridge cards and playing the game in our home after he caught Charles playing with a deck of bridge cards that Grandmother Boren had given him. (Charles was seven or eight years old then.) But Dad never approved of or gave permission for any of us to dance in our home.

And I doubt if he actually ever withdrew his objections to card-playing in our home; he just tolerated it. Edwin, Jr. told me about this incident that occurred at the beach, about twelve years before Dad died. During an electrical storm one Sunday, lightning struck near Dad’s cottage. Dad was listening to the radio at the time, and near him a group of young folks were playing bridge. Following the bolt of lightning, a small ball of fire seemed to jump out of the radio and roll across the floor. My father with one big swoop of his hand overturned the card table, saying, “There will be no more card playing in my home on Sunday. THE LORD HAS SPOKEN”.

{this post continues with the text of Minnie B. Jones Ussery, who wrote this in 1960}

Isn’t that last bit hysterical? (at least that is how I read it – so funny and yes, dramatic). I love how he was firm in his beliefs but still had a sense of humor and kindness. My Grandpapa remembers his grandfather JAJ1 quite fondly. Same with his father Raymond. My Dad was born in 1953, so he never got to know his grandfather Raymond. He never had a grandfather at all. I remember he told my cousin’s that at our Pappy’s funeral last February. How we needed to know having a relationship with one at all was such a huge blessing. Once I am done sharing the “Minnie B.” family history, I will share my perspective and memories/stories Grandpapa and Grandmama have told me about the family. Hopefully more pictures, too.

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Virginia based lifestyle blogger Whitney of WorthyStyle shares her beauty, fashion, gluten free cooking, family life, and more. Follow along!

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