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Jones to leave commission, return to Arkansas



The Rev. Chester Jones is leaving his job as top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

A UMNS Report
By John Coleman*

March 6, 2007 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

The Rev. Chester Jones, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, plans to leave the agency to return as a district superintendent in the Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference.

On July 31, he will leave behind the agency that advocates and monitors the denomination for racial inclusiveness.



 Bishop Charles N. Crutchfield

An Arkansas native, Jones accepted the invitation of Bishop Charles N. Crutchfield to join his cabinet and provide leadership in a conference created in 2004 from the merger of the Little Rock and North Arkansas conferences. He will supervise about 70 churches as superintendent of the South Central District, based in Hot Springs, Ark.

"I'm overjoyed that Dr. Jones has accepted my request to join us," said Crutchfield, "because for years, he has been one of the premier leaders in the Arkansas Conference, with a tremendous reputation among pastors and laity here for his leadership and pastoral skills.

"He will add the important perspective of the African-American experience to our cabinet and contribute from his own experience in helping to foster racial/ethnic diversity throughout our denomination."

Jones was superintendent of the Pine Bluff District in the Little Rock Conference for six years before becoming the commission's third general secretary in 1999.



 Bishop Linda Lee

"I consider this a Macedonian call, like that experienced by the Apostle Paul," said Jones, "to come home and help our newly merged conference develop a unified culture of discipleship, congregational vitality and leadership development."

Jones previously was pastor of the then-predominantly white Hunter United Methodist Church in Little Rock-the conference's first cross-racial appointment for a senior pastor. Prior to that, he worked for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries as a field representative for its Office of Town and Country Ministries and as a consultant for its Ethnic Minority Local Church missional priority work.

Bishop Linda Lee, president of the commission, thanked Jones for his service and leadership, while affirming the significance of his new appointment.

"Dr. Jones has enriched our ministry with his keen theological perspectives on race and racism and with the articles, booklets and other resources he has developed on cross-racial appointments, the ministry of racial reconciliation, multicultural concerns, old and new manifestations of prejudice and other key topics," Lee said. "We are grateful for all he has done in his ministry with us, and we appreciate the great need for his gifts in his home conference at this critical time in its development."

The commission is scheduled to meet March 15-17 and will assign a committee to begin a search process for a new general secretary.

*Coleman is communications specialist for the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race in Washington.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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