Edward Jones: A Tireless Worker
Edward Jones was a Welshman who laid the foundations of the Calvinistic Methodist Church in Ohio in the 1830's and 40's. He had been licensed to preach before leaving Wales for America, but had not been ordained, according to their church custom. After immigrating to America, he was ordained on June 12, 1833, to labor among the Calvinistic Methodists in Ohio. A very well educated man, he founded a private school in Cincinnati and taught for many years, as well as organizing a number of churches in the area in those years.
Jones had strong gifts and creativity which included inventing a shorthand writing system, which he then taught to students.
Jones made long and extensive trips throughout Ohio between 1832 and 1840, traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles, much of the time on foot, to help organize churches, and to strengthen the work of Zion across the state among the Calvinistic Methodists.
On one such trip, he walked from Cincinnati to Palmyra in Portage County, in the northeast part of the state, to organize and give leadership to the Palmyra church. It was on this trip that he faced severe difficulties. A severe thunder storm came upon him, with both rain and strong winds. With no homes in sight, he had nowhere to take shelter. The road was hardly more than a small path through the woods. Jones had to remove his shoes, for fear of losing them in the mud and wet clay. He walked onward barefoot through the dark hours of evening in the heavy rains, his only light being the flashes of lightning that would give him direction.
After walking several hours, he saw a light from a house, where he was graciously received and welcomed for the night. Exhausted with bleeding feet, he fell into bed for the night. It was not until three days later that he could wear his shoes and continue on his trip in the interests of the establishment of the churches and the advance of the gospel in Ohio.
On one trip in March, 1836, Jones, traveling with Edward Blunt, took a boat from Cincinnati to Portsmouth, and then walked through the woods to the Centerville area in Gallia County. Darkness came upon them and they were lost in a wilderness area. "Mr. Jones, we'll be devoured before morning," Blunt told Jones; "Oh, no," said Jones, "God can keep us in the forest, just as He did Daniel and the three lads in Babylon; if He has work for us to do, we'll be protected."
The morning dawned, and they continued on safely. About nine o'clock that morning, they reached the house of Tom Alban, the first Welsh home that they came to. Then they proceeded to visit another Welsh immigrant and a believer, Daniel Edwards. Upon arriving, they discovered a prayer meeting had been planned for ten o'clock. Because of the arrival of Jones and and Blunt, the prayer meeting was changed to a preaching service also. Jones had been there before, in November of the previous year, and was there for two Sundays. On that trip, he had walked at least 300 miles in the work of the gospel.
Edward Jones was the pastor of the Cincinnati church for eighteen years, from 1832 until 1850. One of the features of the Calvinistic Methodists during these years were their practice of the gymanva, which were preaching festivals where churches would come together for several days of preaching, communion, and fellowship. Jones worked diligently to organize the gymanvas widely. It was a commitment to the preaching of the gospel and the truth, to the need of true Christian fellowship among all those who held to the truth in sincerity, and to maintaining and increasing a spreading witness of the gospel all over Ohio.
As a result, there were gospel churches planted and the truth of Jesus Christ spread widely in Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century, largely as the result of God blessing the labors and diligent work of Edward Jones. He was probably never known outside of his own circles during his life, but he was known to the Lord of the Harvest as a faithful and persevering servant of Christ.
- Mack Tomlinson