This week’s personality is a delightful, enthusiastic, and charming lady that I have never met! Pastor Joan Jones is a person that once you have spoken with leaves you with the feeling that you know her well. She is absolutely one of the easiest people to speak with and just exudes happiness about her life and family and friends here in Calvert County! Within a few minutes of talking with her I knew I was in for a good story! I want to thank all the people who recommended her to me for this column.
Reverend Jones is a lifelong Calvert Countian and represents all the best things Southern Maryland has to offer. She is a fine example of an individual who works hard to become successful, leaving home to study in another part of the State and in the big city only to bring her education back home where there is great need and opportunity. The Pastor shared with me her envisions of settling in Napa Valley or San Francisco, but her heart was always here in “The Land of Pleasant Living” for she loved the freedom of walking through open space, the smell of fresh air, and the closeness to the beach. And while she recognizes how much the County has grown over the years, she says there are still “pockets of intimate closeness” here and she wanted her children and grandchildren to experience the same type of “small town upbringing” that she enjoyed!
Years ago, upon graduating from Calvert High, she entered Bowie State College, now Bowie State University and earned a BS in Elementary Education with hopes of becoming a teacher. At a real early age, she knew she wanted to be involved in helping others, an idea that came from the example her grandmother, Edna Coates, set as she watched her prepare care baskets for her home bound friends and family when necessary. Her parents, Walter and Catherine Johnson, were also very kind hearted and giving persons. One of the Pastor’s fondest memories is of her grandmother and mother working together to prepare for each upcoming winter season by putting up food stuffs by canning and preserving as was the custom years ago.
One of her more interesting comments were her thoughts of actually becoming a nun while still a teenager! And as she grew older, she contemplated traveling to far off places in an effort to see the real world once she received her degree. She confided in me that “God had other ideas for her”. On her graduation day, a little voice whispered in her ear “I have prepared you to go back home and help those in need. You don’t need to travel far away for there are needy children in your own back yard.” And so, she returned home to pursue her thirty year career as educator in the County school system.
The Reverend served three years on the Calvert County Board of Education as the first elected African-American and the first African-American female to fill this position. She spent several years on the Calvert County Public Schools Board of Ethics. She also worked with Adult literacy to help people improve their educational skills and earn their GEDs. She continued her desire to work with children and create within them the need to stay in school to learn and further their education. Her hard work ultimately has paid off for there are so many former students here today that benefitted from her efforts and now enjoy happy lives and great family values. I know without a doubt, these individuals are a source of great pride to her knowing the part her example played in their successes.
Evidently, the “little voice” that whispered in her ear earlier in her life must have spoken with her once more for after 26 years of teaching, she decided to enter Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and earned a Masters of Divinity Degree. Returning home once more, she is now pastoring in the same community where she grew up. She is amazed to have so many former classmates, neighbors, old friends, and relatives as members of her flock at St. Edmonds United Methodist Church where she has served for more than 15 years now. She says her greatest supporters are her children followed by her eight siblings, seven who are still living. As the oldest, she was placed into a “leadership” position at an early age and I am sure this provided the catalyst for her to easily assume roles to help and teach others. She spoke fondly of her family and of the successes they have achieved with their own lives. They are very close knitted and each values their love for one another as they continue the foundation provided by their parents and grandparents. They were continually encouraged by their older family members to do their best in whatever role they found themselves. It must be a truly warm, loving, and happy group! I can only imagine what their family gatherings must be like!!! If the rest of the family is anything like Reverend Joan, it has to be joyous, enthusiastic occasion! Don’t you wish all families had this regard for one another! Wouldn’t the County, if not the World be a better place!?! I believe it would…
One of the Pastor’s fondest efforts is her involvement with “Safe Nights” here in Calvert County where she serves as the Secretary on the Board of Directors. She also spends time training leaders of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church in an effort to prepare the laity for certification as lay servants and lay ministers.
Finally, as a parting remark, she concluded this interview with her awe for what God has done with her life and allowed her to serve him as she has. She often thinks she was born to help others and thanks him for all that she has become. And she closed with “Calvert County played a tremendous part in my journey”.
Pastor Jones, what a wonderful story you have provided me with. Thanks for allowing me to share it with the folks here. You are a true inspiration and a beautiful person! Thank you for all you do!
Dave Spigler resides in Lusby and has been a resident of Calvert County since 1979. He has been recognized many times for his years of community service. He received the “Calvert You Are Beautiful Award” for 2013 and recognized by the Knights of Columbus as the “Maryland Citizen of the Year” in 2011. He was a member of the HOGETTES, the Washington Redskins “Biggest Fans” for 22 years. If you know of an unsung citizen of Calvert County, please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.