FACES & PLACES: Jemison pastor ministers to community

Editor’s note: This story published in The Clanton Advertiser’s Faces & Places 2015. Copies are still available at the Advertiser office, located at 1109 Seventh St. S. in Clanton (across Hwy. 31 from the Winn-Dixie shopping center). Or, read a digital version of the magazine here.

A goal each day for Victory Baptist Church pastor Donald Jones is to remain faithful to the truth of God’s word.

“In a world that is rapidly changing, and has changed so much in just the last couple of years, we have to remember to love people,” Jones said. “We just have to love people while remaining faithful to God’s word.”

Jones is the pastor at Victory Baptist Church, where he has served in various capacities since 1980.

Victory Baptist Church pastor Donald Jones has served in various capacities at the church since 1980. Jones spends most days ministering to the community around him. (Photo by Emily Reed)

Victory Baptist Church pastor Donald Jones has served in various capacities at the church since 1980. Jones spends most days ministering to the community around him. (Photo by Emily Reed)

Jones learned about an opening for a school principal at Chilton Christian Academy, which is operated by Victory Baptist Church, when he and his wife Rexaleen were living in Tennessee.

“I heard about the opportunity, and it was between coming to Chilton County or moving to the Virgin Islands to work with some missionary friends we had, and the Lord opened up the door for me to come to Chilton County,” Jones said. “When we came here, we had two children, and I started out as the principal for the school which was very young at the time. It had started in 1977.”

Jones graduated from Tennessee Temple University and Temple Theological Seminary where he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

The first year Jones was principal, 63 students attended the school, and Jones described the first year as a wonderful learning experience.

In 1982, Jones took over the music ministry in the church, and worked alongside pastor Buddy Hayes, who later resigned, and then Dr. Braxton Baker, who pastored the church for 10 years and resigned in 2001.

Jones became the pastor in July 2001, while still the principal of the school.

“My heart changed when I became a pastor,” Jones said. “I believe that God really changes your heart and allows you to really love the people you are called to minister to. No one is perfect, and you have to love people with their problems.”

Now, Jones has three grown children and six grandchildren, and spends most days ministering to the community around him.

Jones said an exciting avenue at Victory Baptist Church is the mission ministry, with the church taking trips to various areas each year.

This year, the church plans to take a trip to Baja California, Mexico where the church has gone for the last two years.

“We have been blessed to be able to travel to places like Honduras and Nicaragua,” Jones said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity for our church and something we really have enjoyed.”

The church also started an AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) program at the church, which Jones said has opened the door for the church to have a ministry to the children in the community.

Jones said the school has also been a ministry and a blessing to the community,with roughly 185 students currently enrolled.

Now, Jones serves as an administrator for the school with Charles Gottshall serving as the principal.

“We have a wonderful staff,” Jones said.

Throughout the years of serving at Victory Baptist and Chilton Christian Academy, Jones said it has been a blessing to see God working through different generations of individuals involved in both the church and school.

“I am now seeing children of the children I knew when I first started working here,” Jones said. “It has been wonderful to see how God has worked through each of their lives, and I am now being able to minister to the second generations of those families. That has been a wonderful blessing for me.”

Jones said a common misconception individuals have about pastors is they are perfect.

“Pastors are human,” Jones said. “They have yet to reach anywhere close to perfection. The best thing a pastor can do is be transparent and let the people see us for who we really are.”

Jones said in a world that is consistently changing, he is still encouraged that the power of the Gospel message is still able to save people.

“I think the greatest thing is even though we have a world that is changing with so many different beliefs and ideals, that the power of the Gospel is still able to change people’s lives,” Jones said. “It might be fewer numbers of people being changed by the Gospel message, but it is still reaching them and changing them, and that is a wonderful encouragement.”

For more information about the ministry at Victory Baptist Church, visit www.vbcjemison.com or call (205) 688-4454.

The church is located at 23240 U.S. Highway 31 in Jemison.

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