Dec 19, 2011

Llewellyn and Clara Jones, Retirement? Bah.

I was talking recently with Pastor Llewellyn (Cal) Jones and his wife, Clara as we looked back on their 54 years in full time ministry in the pastorate.  In a previous post I gave you some of their advice to young pastors and now I want to share a couple things about their ministry.  It was very encouraging to see that despite the outward signs of retirement -- senior citizens, living in FL, living in a motorhome -- the Jones' had not retired, they were still actively serving God.  I also asked about their most memorable moments.... read on, my friend.......

Cal and Clara were married in '55.  He graduated in '56 and they went into ministry in '57.   I asked them where they saw their ministry headed when they first got what is often referred to as "the call."  I wondered if he was called into the pulpit immediately or if it evolved through other ministries first.  He said he wanted to start as a youth minister and, in fact, did start as a youth pastor.  But after preaching three times, the church asked him to be the pastor.

Two times in their ministry years they traveled a little and thought maybe they were heading into an evangelistic ministry; however, both times it became clear they needed to be back in a church full time.

As for retirement, Pastor Jones related a time he was in Honduras visiting his daughter on the mission field. He told me about visiting "the islands," which he anticipated as being beautiful resort-filled islands.  He found them "terrible, primitive -- a walkway, no roads, no cars.  We brought suitcases to our 'motel' in wheelbarrows."
He began thinking, "why are we here?"  
Then they met an island pastor who built a church by tearing down a mainland church, carrying the supplies over to the island and rebuilding the church - it was beautiful, even with chandeliers.  This old island pastor and Cal walked outside and found a block of cement.  Cal asked the pastor, "What are you doing with this cement pad?"  The 91-year old pastor told Cal he was going to build Sunday School classrooms on that cement pad.  Cal told me, "He's 91 and he's doing all this.  It made me realize I'm only 75!  I'm not gonna quit now!"  He then wrote a song about the experience -- Paradise is What You Make It.  That is one of many songs he has written recently that will be featured on a CD to be released, Lord willing, January of 2012.  He continued,
"It was a terrible experience, but I learned something.  Now I understand why the Lord brought me there."
See?  No retirement.  91 or 75 or 55, God always has a plan for you, something for you to do.

When it was time to wind down my conversation with Pastor and Mrs. Jones I asked the fun question: What is your most memorable experience in church ministry?

Cal:  "In West Windsor, our church had a mens softball team.  I'll never forget when Jerry, your dad, came around third base rolling in the dirt.
He stood up, glasses on the side of his face, looked at me and said, 'We got 'em right where we want them now!'  He was staggering all over the place and we were losing so bad, we were maybe 30 runs behind."
I later asked my dad about that.  He and mom laughed and laughed, mom said, "Jer fell down, but his legs kept running in the air, then he got back up and began running toward the outfield!  I remember Clara saying sweetly, 'Isn't he going the wrong way?'"
"The funny thing is, though," Dad said, "We came back and won that game."

Clara:  "This young girl came in from the projects.  Sweet little thing, she got saved and Cal was going to baptize her.  The water was way too cold.  She set both her hands on the front railing and moaned as she tried to get used to that water.  Up and down, getting a little wetter each time, trying to get used to the cold.  Each time she'd pop back up and moan a little more!"

Since the Jones' mentioned dad in their favorite memory, I had to ask dad what his favorite memory of Pastor Jones is.  That was easy.  "It was their first Christmas at our church," Dad began, "Your cousin Mark got up to play the trombone in the Christmas musical.  He squawked out a few incorrect notes, stopped and muttered 'Aw, Nuts!' and tried again.  He did this several times, always stomping his foot, always muttering 'Aw nuts!' and always restarting from the beginning.  Finally, Midge whispered out from the side door, 'Psssst, Mark?  You're done!  Come out now!!'  Mark never finished the song and Pastor Jones was right there on the front pew, shoulders shaking from suppressed laughter."

Cal and Clara Jones' Advice on Ministry
A Personal Visit with the Jones'

Cal Jones: The Music

West Windsor Baptist Church before mine or the Jones' time:


Midge said...

I'm so old that those "good ole' days" really do seem good!

Lois said...

I remember that softball game!!! Your Dad was sooo funny!!!

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