By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Rev. Orville Jones understands and graciously accepts his calling, but feels some may, at times, forget a pastor is a human being, too.
The hurts and setbacks of day-to-day life can also affect men in the pulpit.
Jones recalls once when he was both physically and emotionally drained. He told a fellow member at First Baptist Church he needed to simply go home, to be with his family.
"I need to go see my children, to see what they look like -- and to see if they still recognize me," said Jones, who has been pastor at First Baptist since the summer of 1986.
As pastor of a relatively small church, Jones serves in multiple roles, but it's the one of a comforting shoulder to cry on and extended hands to pray with that can be the most demanding -- and touching.
"There have been many nights I've been called at 2 a.m. to go down to the jail, or come to the hospital -- but that's what you sign up for, you know that going in," he said.
As demanding as many of those kinds of requests can be, there are times when Jones says he realizes how important those outreaches are.
"I had a lady come up to me once and said she remembered me from when she was in the hospital, and how I took the time to stop and pray with her," Jones said. "She told me she has never forgotten that. You are always expected to help as a pastor -- it's what you do. And if I can help, I'll try."
The 55-year-old Jones is widely recognized as a community leader, dynamic speaker and accomplished musician and singer.
He remembers what he experienced when he came to Quincy from Decatur almost 27 years ago. What he found then is quite different than what he sees now.
In the 1980s, Jones said, there was a more militant overtone from sides of the racial equation. But through the course of almost three decades since, he feels there is a much stronger sense of community. And that, Jones says, has taken much work from both blacks and whites.
"But there is still a long way to go," he said.
Jones, who loves flying and is a licensed pilot, said he had once hoped to serve God in the role of a musician.
"My gift was music, and that's all I wanted to do," he said. "But God was calling me to (be a pastor). I fought against it for a while, but there is no fighting God."
Jones' only disappointment with his career in Quincy has been that his mother, the late Sarah Lee Elizabeth Jones, was not able to share it with him and his family.
Jones' mom passed away at age 67 shortly before he was fully settled in Quincy. She was a 32-year veteran of the police force in Indianapolis, Ind. That's where Jones grew up and became a diehard Indianapolis Colts fan. That's also where his mom instilled in him the love for music than can still be heard today when he sings or plays the piano or organ.
"My plan was always to move my Mom here to Quincy," he said.
Jones said he has never seriously considered leaving Quincy after coming here and building a life. There have been a few overtures made for his services by churches from different towns, but it always "felt right" to stay here, he said.
Jones and his second wife, Lena, have a combined six children -- Cherrie, 34; Cherie, 33, Orville III, 32; Christina, 27; Christian, 25; Lindsey, 23 and Estalita, 15. There's also 11 grandkids.
"God has been good to me here," Jones said.