The Rev. Kenneth S. Jones, a retired United Methodist pastor, former missionary to the Belgian Congo, a church journalist, district superintendent, and the Pastor Emeritus at Faith United Methodist Church, died peacefully on September 29, in the Wilson Health Care Center of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He was 98 years old.
Rev. Jones was born in Glen Rock, New Jersey on August 17, 1919, the second son of Howard Kenneth Jones and Bessie Belle Appelgate Jones. His family moved to Baltimore when he was still a boy. He graduated from Baltimore City College in Baltimore.
Jones started his career as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun newspaper in 1937. He also worked as a Program Director with radio station WITH. He was featured in a LIFE Magazine story in 1938 as a typical American urban youth, and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He served in Europe with the 16th Armored Division and was part of the team that liberated the town of Pilsen in Czechoslovakia.
He returned from the war and entered American University, where he finished his college degree. During that time he served as the assistant pastor to Dr. Edward G. Latch at Metropolitan Methodist Church, before Dr. Latch became Chaplain of the US Senate. There, he met his first wife Edlea Janice Kelly. They married in 1948, just before he entered Yale Divinity School to earn his Masters of Divinity Degree.
Upon graduating from Yale, he was appointed to St. Luke Methodist Church in Woodlawn, outside of Baltimore. Through some of his broadcasting contacts, he and Edlea created and hosted a weekly television show in the living room of their parsonage inviting key religious leaders to share in a “talk show” format. One of their guests, was a Methodist bishop, Newell Booth, who was responsible for recruiting missionaries for the Belgian Congo. The Joneses were inspired to sign up, and in 1956 they sailed by ocean liner to Belgium for a year’s preparation before entering the African nation to serve as missionaries. They were assigned to a mission station just outside of Kindu, a port town on the Congo River.
The Joneses were caught in the fighting of a civil war in the newly named country of Zaire, when they were serving in Elizabethville, and had to be evacuated by the US Government in the middle of the night.
Ken Jones served as Director of Public Relations for Bishop John Wesley Lord in Washington, DC upon their return from Africa. In February, 1967 he was assigned the second pastor of Faith United Methodist Church on Montrose Road in Rockville, MD. He was the Senior Pastor there for ten years, before being moved to Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church at the Washington Monument on Charles Street in Baltimore. Again by hosting a weekly half-hour Sunday morning radio program, he built up and revived that inner city congregation, and became a close friend of then Mayor William Donald Schaefer. He was later voted one of “Baltimore’s Best” a program of the mayor to recognize key contributors to life in Baltimore. Jones published two books, “Twelve Came Riding” the stories he edited of 12 modern-day pastors who rode horses to Baltimore for the 1966 Bi-Centennial Celebration of the founding of Methodism in America. Jones was the one who came up with the idea, and recruited the pastors. It was a great publicity boom for the Methodist Church in that day. His second book, “Angels Up Ahead” were his memoirs of his extraordinarily blessed life, told in short vignettes of episodes where God had provided miraculously for him.
Jones was appointed a District Superintendent of the Annapolis District by Bishop D. Frederick Wertz in July of 1984. He then ultimately retired in December of 1986. His wife, Edlea, was killed in a car accident in October of 1989.
Jones served a number of interim pastorates in his retirement years, and did fund-raising and served for many years as the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Coordinator for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. He led over 25 volunteer trips to the Caribbean, Russia, Europe and Africa. He was instrumental in starting the Seminary Library at the United Methodist Seminary in Moscow.
Jones married, Larocca Tewell Swain in September of 1992. They lived at Asbury Village until both of their deaths. Larocca “Rocky” died on June 4, 2016. Both Ken & Rocky donated their bodies to the Maryland Anatomy Board for scientific research.
Jones is survived by three sons: the Rev. Jeffrey W. Jones, pastor of North Bethesda UMC and his wife, Elaine; the Rev. Dr. Bruce A. Jones, pastor of La Plata UMC and his wife, Dawn; and by Kelly S. Jones and his wife, Mary of Hudson, Ohio. He had ten grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will be held at Faith United Methodist Church in Rockville, on Friday, November 10, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his name to the Faith United Methodist Church Foundation, Inc.