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Art of rightsizing

South Boston News
Jones / March 12, 2020

The Rev. Timothy “Tim” Jones, the new rector at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Halifax, is battling the usual challenges that come with a change in address.

“The move has been a holy chaos, but we are moving through it,” said Jones of the Halifax home where he and his wife, Jill, now live.

The transition to Halifax church life might be somewhat less formidable, considering the scale of Jones’ previous job — as dean of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, S.C. In that position, Jones had oversight of more than 3,000 parishioners, some half-dozen clergy leaders and staff of nearly 20 administrative employers.

Saint John’s is quite different.

“I wanted to leave the big church to get to know the parishioners,” said Jones, explaining his reasons for coming to the stately Halifax church. He said he was drawn to how members of the congregation are kind to one another and like being together.

Living in Halifax also puts Tim and Jill Jones closer to family members and allows them to reconnect with old friends in the area. (He once led a church in Rocky Mount.) The more relaxed pace that flows from leading a small church also provides the opportunity to do what he desires most — contemplate and preach the Gospel of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“I was wired to be a pastor, I missed the people in church and pastoral ministry,” he said.

Jones is a firm believer in power of prayer and how practicing prayer brings you closer to God. He takes it upon himself to help parishioners understand the power of faith during those times when prayer itself can seem like a struggle.

“I like to take a difficult subject like prayer, and help people see how it fits in their daily life,” said Jones.

With his own day, Jones has a routine for how he connects with prayer. He uses a journal, with jotted prayers and three words: “adore, admit, ask.” Jones explained the word “adore” means to praise God. The word “admit” means to confess. The word “ask” addresses people he knows and loves. After writing in his journal about “stuff that has happened” in his day, Jones writes down what he perceives its meaning to be, and what God is trying to say to him. After spending time writing in his journal, meditating and praying, he then likes to go out for a nice jog.

“The jog is physical and helps to creatively reflect on the intentions of my prayers. If God is speaking to me, I need to listen and pay attention,” said Jones. “God speaks through scripture and events of our lives. Prayer is a way to slow down and reflect.”

Writing is an essential part of Jones’ resume. Aside from leading a massive congregation — Trinity is Columbia’s oldest Episcopal church — Jones is an accomplished author and essayist. He has written several acclaimed books on faith, including Awake My Soul: Practical Spirituality for Busy People; The Art of Prayer; Workday Prayers; and Nurturing Your Child’s Soul. His top-selling book is Celebration of Angels.

Jones also is a former writer and editor for Christianity Today magazine, the nation’s leading publication on Christian life. Jones continues to write, seeing his craft as one more calling in life. His current book, in the works, is focused on the Trinity and explores how we experience God through the use of the Christian doctrine and what that means for our lives.

Outside of spiritual writings, Jones is an avid reviewer of old time and bluegrass music, with critical appraisals that have been published in a variety of music magazines. His love of music began as a percussion player in his high school band. He added guitar and mandolin to repertoire while entertaining with church youth groups at church picnics and pancake suppers. Jones enjoys claw-hammer banjo music found in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Joneses moved to Halifax about a month ago. Tim and Jill met while attending Princeton Theological Seminary, and they both became Episcopal ministers after attending the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. Married for over 40 years, they have two sons, a daughter, and five grandchildren. One son has followed his parents into the ministry, the other son is a brand manager/graphic artist, and their daughter works in mortgage finance.

Jones, who was raised a Methodist, joined the Episcopal faith in 2001 after falling in love with the majesty of the worship, Eucharist every Sunday, how the scripture is woven into every service, and most of all the eloquence of prayers. “Some of the prayers were ancient, tested by time, and still fresh in a profound way,” said Jones adding some of the prayers from the fourth and fifth centuries are relevant today.

The Holy Eucharist is offered every Sunday at Saint John’s at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary, followed by coffee hour at 11 a.m., and Adult Sunday School at 11:25 a.m. The current Sunday School class is delving into the Lord’s Prayer. On Wednesday mornings, the Holy Eucharist and Healing Prayer service is held at 11 a.m. in the chapel.

Saint John’s Episcopal Church is located at 197 Mountain Road, Halifax. For more information contact the phone office at 434-476-6696 or check out their website at

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