Lucille Jones, 93, retiring after more than 40 years teaching Sunday School

December 10, 2004|HERB BROCK

Lucille Jones is retiring as a Sunday school teacher at the end of this year. Based on the way she conducted herself during a recent interview, maybe she should start preaching.

Sure, on paper it would appear Jones would be long past retirement. She is 93 years old and has put in more than 40 years teaching Sunday school for 11- and 12-year-old girls at First Baptist Church, Second and Walnut streets. She deserves a break.

But you can keep the gold watch, and the rocking chair as well. Jones is full with as much spunk and spirit - both the physical and religious kinds - as one of her Sunday school class students. She let that spirit flow when she thought the questions from a reporter appeared to show a sinner's ignorance of her church in general and Christ in particular.

"Now it looks like you're going to need to know more about the Bible, young man," said Jones to a middle-aged man who felt like a 10-year-old boy. "You need to get down on your knees, acknowledge your sins and ask the Lord to come into your life."


The reporter's attempts to tell Jones that he was religious and did belong to a church were for naught. From what she gathered of the reporter's familiarity with the Bible and salvation, he wasn't religious enough nor belonged to the right church.

That episode, occurring in Jones' two story white house on Martin Luther King Boulevard, underscored what Jones' pastor, the Rev. Richard Hill, and her great-niece Pam McCowan, had been saying to the reporter before and during the interview - that Jones has lived and loved her faith as well as taught and preached it. Their comments were punctuated by framed documents on Jones' walls, including a 1992 citation for her then-50 years of membership at First Baptist, a citation for her service as a Sunday school teacher, and a certificate from the mayor of Jerusalem acknowledging her pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.

"I've been at First Baptist for 31 years now and Mrs. Jones has always been a Sunday school teacher and also secretary of our Sunday school department and an active member of our Women's Missionary Society," said Hill. "She has been an extremely valuable teacher, secretary and member.

"Above all, though, when it comes to our church, the children are the most important thing. She wants them to learn the Bible and become good Christians," he said.

Evangelistic to the core

And then there is work outside the church, Hill noted.

"She does a lot more for our church than just what she does inside the walls of First Baptist, and that's a lot," he said. "She visits our people in the nursing homes and hospitals. She checks on shut-ins. And, as you can tell, she is evangelistic to the core."

McCowan could say "amen" to all of what Hill said. She also can add testimony from the perspective not only as a fellow parishioner but also as a great-niece and former student of Jones'.

"She taught me and, since she was my great aunt and I was her great-niece, I had to know everything and do everything right," McCowan said with a chuckle. "She knows her Bible and her faith and she really has a desire that children share her knowledge and faith."

Jones was born and raised in the Turnersville Community in Lincoln County, one of nine children.

"It was a little, old country place, where everybody knew everybody and everybody worked at a lot of different things," she said. "I worked in town and I worked on the farms, cutting tobacco and planting and harvesting corn. In the country, you do everything to live and survive."

She earned a nursing degree and worked as a psychiatric nurse for 30 years at the old Kentucky State Hospital for mental patients in Boyle County. She also was a homemaker. Her husband, Dallas Jones, now deceased, owned a barbershop on Second Street in Danville.

Jones became a Christian when was 13 or 14 years of age and attending a Methodist church. She later became a Baptist. In 1942 she joined First Baptist and, not long after, became a Sunday school teacher.

"I wanted to teach young people because they are the future of the church," she said. "If you teach young people the Bible, they can tell their friends about it and their friends can tell their friends."

Her philosophy: "You go and do"

Jones' philosophy of teaching and evangelizing is simple: "You go and do."

"The Bible says to 'go to the hedges and highways and compel them to come.' I've been doing that all my life," she said. "You go and you do. You pray and you teach. You teach the children and they teach others. You just go and do what the Lord says, and what the Lord says in the Bible."

Jones not only preaches that philosophy to youngsters. She also preaches it to preachers.

"The spirit can move anyone, even preachers who think they don't need any more spirit," she said. "And I don't mind tell them when they need more spirit.

"Why, I'll be in the pews listening to Brother Hill deliver his sermon. He might be doing OK but you see when the spirit moves him. He'll be reading (his text) and the spirit will cause him to forget what he wrote and it will take over. Those are the best sermons."

What about Jones delivering her own sermons? What about her becoming a minister after her retirement as a Sunday school teacher?

"I don't believe in women preachers. Find in the Bible where it says women can be preachers," she said.

Right after that comment, the woman who doesn't believe in women preachers began preaching to man she thinks lacks sufficient faith.

"Speaking of what the Bible says, you need to read the Bible or at least read it more than you do," she told the middle-aged kid. "The devil's in you but the Lord is stronger than that devil.

"You read the Bible and let Christ into your heart, that devil will be gone."

With that, the reporter left Jones' house with a story and a sermon.

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