A career in ministry is not a choice that local leader Rev. Junior Jones made himself.
“I didn’t decide. It was from a higher calling and I accepted,” said Jones.
He accepted the call in 1966 and was ordained in 1972.
Now 83-years-old, Jones was born in Danville, Virginia, where he grew up and went to school. His wife Irene, 66, was born and raised in the small town of Moro, Arkansas.
Both came from large families and religious backgrounds. Rev. Jones was born to Samuel T. Jones and Lottie Mae Jones. When Jones was 6-7, his mother married George W. Bailey. Irene was born to Alexander Hansberry and Elvie Cleveland Hansberry.
Growing up Junior Jones says he was “all boy.” He would turn on water faucets and let them run, play with matches and in elementary school he enjoyed shooting marbles. When his mother married George, he went to church and school at Mount Freeman.
Rev. Jones served in the United States Air Force from 1954 to July of 1974. His military career took him to many places such as Germany, Scotland, Turkey, Alaska, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. He served in Vietnam from 1971 to 1972, in security service and a radio operator on a C-47 aircraft.
Irene was raised on a farm and had such chores as taking care of the little ones, cooking, washing dishes and washing clothes. Her father was a farmer so she picked cotton. Junior Jones was raised on a tobacco plantation.
Irene’s family grew okra, peas, cucumbers and other vegetables for market. Other veggies were for home. They also raised hogs.
Irene attended George Washington Carver Elementary School in Marietta, Arkansas. She attended junior high at Anna Strong Middle School. She graduated from high school during the beginning of “Freedom of Choice,” when the school system was integrated.
Irene is a retired school teacher, with over 40 years of experience. She taught for 35 years in San Antonio at St. Margaret Mary Catholic School and also seven years in Marietta, Arkansas. She taught for two years in La Grange.
The first time Rev. Jones saw Irene he knew he was going to marry her. They finally met at church. They married in 1981 in San Antonio and reside there.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones have three daughters and three grandchildren whom all live in San Antonio. They have one son-in-law.
It was the military that first brought Junior Jones to San Antonio. Then in 1985, he served as Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Jourdanton. He has served as Pastor at Second Baptist Chapel in Pleasanton since 1992. Jones was also a pastor in La Grange for seven years.
“To me the joy of being a pastor is dealing with people. It is sometimes a struggle dealing with people, but it is also a joy. Seeing the results- that is where the joy is,” Rev. Jones said.
Jones is well-known in the community for his role as director at Christian Assistance Ministry (CAM). He has been with CAM since 1999. Irene is a volunteer with CAM.
At CAM, Junior Jones serves in ministry, with the center serving 2,000 people a month. There are approximately 15 churches that sponsor CAM.
Jones’ role entails keeping up with the finances and assisting with the needs of the people such as writing gas vouchers, helping with light bills, hotel bills, providing food and clothing and more.
Rev. Jones has been with Atascosa Inter-Agency Council since its inception and is currently their treasurer. Other organizations Jones serves in are the Pleasanton Lions Club, Ministerial Alliance in Poteet, Emergency Management and Shelter and the Red Cross.
Helping others is a way of life Jones has always carried with him.
“Everywhere I was stationed, I got involved with the community,” said Jones.
While stationed in Japan, he did missionary work there.He recalled a time while serving in Vietnam, when they served 10,000 on Christmas Day.
“We started at 7 a.m. and didn’t stop until we heard gunshots.”
“Everywhere I go, I learn the culture, what they like to eat. I see what the needs of the people are.”
The favorite place Rev. Jones has ever visited is Scotland, while Irene said the favorite place she has ever visited is the Bahamas.
“It was beautiful. The water is clear. You can walk out on the beach and see the ground and fish around you. I heard this saying, ‘This is the Bahamas. The place where God lives.’”
Junior Jones strongly recommends others attend Atascosa Inter-Agency Council meetings.
Said Rev. Jones, “The Atascosa Inter-Agency Council meetings are the best place for receiving information. We are made up of about 15-18 organizations. We meet on the second Thursday of the month. We cover San Antonio, Lytle, Poteet, Jourdanton, Pleasanton, Wilson County you name it. With that organization, if you have a problem, they will give you an answer. If you’ve got a need, they will get you help.”
With the Ministerial Alliance in Poteet, Rev. Jones said he is on the ground floor. He meets with Pastor Dave Collett at First United Methodist Church in Poteet. They meet with the Poteet Police Department, Police Chief Bruce Hickman, Poteet Fire Chief Curtis Adams, as well as other ministers, leaders and organizations, to improve the community.
His church, Second Baptist Chapel, encourages youth to get involved in community service.
“That is what our church does. We work with the young people and give them opportunities to do things at the church and in service. They are not the church of tomorrow. They are the church of today. We like having them involved in what is going on, if it’s going to continue, once we are gone,” Mrs. Jones said.
If the younger people are not prepared, the church will not continue on.
On the fifth Sunday, they hold Youth Sunday. They take part in activities like fellowship after the service. The youth handle the worship service- the singing, the praying, etc. They bring in pizza and a game-mobile, 18-wheeler with games for the kids, outside and inside.
“So the kids enjoy life at church,” said Irene. “Pastor always says that religion was not designed to make your pleasures less. It was designed to help youth to enjoy that which is right.”
Irene said her joy comes from spending time with her husband.
“Some of us are called to different venues in life. As a minister’s wife, it is a call- the wife is a covering for the minister. A lot of ministers don’t realize it. It is the wife that keeps the wounds off of him. My joy comes from doing what God has called me to do, to help him. I stand with him. I help him do whatever it is that God calls him to do.”
“I appreciate that,” said Junior Jones.
Jones is a big Dallas Cowboys fan. While he said that he is too old now for hobbies, he used to like to bowl and fish. Rev. Jones likes watching westerns and shows like Walker Texas Ranger.
Irene loves to sing, read and watch Hallmark movies .
When he is asked what he likes about Atascosa County, he said it is the people. He is grateful for the support CAM receives from the communitywhether it be churches who donate, those who hold food drives, FEMA, etc.
Rev. Jones also knows the importance of offering a listening ear.
“If somebody is hurting, you can turn them off easily, if you say the wrong thing. ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ That is the wrong thing to say,” Rev. Jones said.
“You want to encourage them,” followed his wife.
Said Rev. Jones, “The joy is when you help. That makes it all worthwhile.”