Jones Chapel Church of God
to dedicate family life center
FAMILY LIFE CENTER Ron Leonard, pastor of Jones Chapel Church of God, and Delores Bailey, minister of music at the church, stand outside the new Family Life Center building that is scheduled for completion June 1.Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown / religion editor
May 24, 2003
When members of Jones Chapel Church of God were asked to pledge funds for a new family life center, they gave enthusiastically. In fact, pledges nearly doubled the $150,000 goal.
On June 1, one year after breaking ground for the center, the 150-member congregation will host a homecoming/dedication service. Completion of the project two years in the making is just one of the church's many milestones in its 113-year history.
According to the church's written history, Jones Chapel was organized in 1890 when D.S. Warner and Barney E. Warren, pioneer ministers in the Church of God Reformation Movement, came to the Spring Hill community (now Zero Road) "preaching and singing about holiness and Christian unity."
They were later joined by Andrew L. Byers, a new member of their singing group.
From these evangelistic meetings, a small group of believers formed. Some were new coverts, while others were from other denominations. The group worshiped for several years in Spring Hill at times meeting in the homes of early pioneer church family members such as J.M. Smith and C.J. McDonald and in the one-room Spring Hill schoolhouse.
As the congregation grew, a new place of worship was sought. In 1905, land on what is now Spring Hill Road was donated by W.H. McGaw. Funds were limited, so everyone pitched in to clear brush from from the land.
Later, a frame building was erected just east of the clearing. It became known as the Pine Grove Church of God because it was built in a grove of pine trees.
From 1906 to 1915, the church was pastored by Coleman Wellborn. In 1915, Clem Griffin became pastor. He walked several miles to the church, and his pay was $1 per week or less in his early years of ministry.
During his pastorate, the congregation moved to the Dry Creek schoolhouse on Highway 45, about eight miles south of Meridian.
In 1926, a new building was erected at the church's current location on land donated by G.C. and "Sister Vadie" Taylor. The name of the church was changed to Jones Chapel Church of God in honor of Hattie Jones, a pioneer member of the congregation and Mrs. Taylor's mother.
In the spring of 1938, the building was destroyed by a tornado and was rebuilt on the same site but made 20 feet longer with two classrooms added.
In 1940, T.O. Matthews became the church's first resident minister. The church's first parsonage was built for him and his family. During Matthews' eight-year tenure, the church grew and the building was enlarged with the addition of two Sunday school classrooms in the attic and additional classrooms, a kitchen and fellowship hall in the basement.
As the congregation continued to grow, the church acquired 20 additional acres of land and the current parsonage. The current church facility was completed in July 1971.
While additional space was needed for church programs, events and special gatherings, the overall objective for the family life center is community outreach.
The two-level $1.2 million facility is 130-by-100 feet, with the upstairs being an extension of the church's current Sunday school wing. It also features a large youth room. Downstairs, an exercise room, kids play room, industrial size kitchen, concession stand and shower facilities are featured.
While no future building projects are currently on tap, Leonard said the church "would like to outgrow our current sanctuary and add to it."