St. Thomas African Methodist Episcopal Church in Walthourville is a small church, but the people have large hearts and they are ready to move forward.
As the new pastor of St. Thomas AME Church and her congregants prepare for their annual double-dose revival, they are thankful for the changes the church has undergone this year.
The church was established in 1892. Last April, the Rev. Rose M. Jones was appointed as the first female pastor of St. Thomas. A native of Savannah, Jones has been in the ministry for six years. She began her ministry under the leadership of the Rev. George Moore, pastor of St. Philip Monumental AME Church in Savannah.
Before assuming the pastorship of St. Thomas AME in Walthourville, she served as the associate pastor at St. Thomas AME in Savannah, where the Rev. Lewis Wilson is pastor. As an educator, Jones said she preached to her students before going into the ministry.
Jones hails from a family of ministers. “My mother is Rev. Rosa Cannady. She was a trailblazer and one of the first women in ministry in the Georgia Conference in the AME. She serves as an associate at Townsley Chapel in Savannah. I also have a sister in ministry and a son who is a pastor,” Jones said.
Since her arrival at St. Thomas, the church has gotten facelift. “We had a lot of help with the outside renovation of the church. People were very generous, and God certainly was in the midst. Last July, the work was done and everything was ready for our annual friends and family day in August,” she said.
“The church is growing, and the people are growing in the Lord. Members have shown me cooperation and have risen to the task. They have a desire to learn more about the person of God and want to taste and see that the Lord is good. They are sincere,” Jones said.
One of her goals for 2011 is to start more mentoring programs to help young men and women understand who they are.
“We are working on outreach ministry and have been doing evangelistic work by passing out tracts. The double-dose revival is also part of our evangelistic outreach,” Jones said.
“We are looking forward to celebrating our annual double-dose revival on March 23-25 at 7 p.m. nightly. We have scheduled some powerful men and women of God who will bring forth the message each night. Their church choir or praise team will lift up holy voices with praise,” Jones said. The theme for the revival is “Rekindle the fire of the holy spirit.” Each night there will be two speakers and they will tag-team as they bring forth the message.
“We also hosted the Saturday Night Special at St. Thomas on March 12, which is a group of ministers coming together for a time of preaching and fellowship,” Jones said. Pastor John Henderson of New Hope AME Church is in charge of the Saturday Night Special programs, which rotate to different churches in the community.
Jones said she is excited about her pastorship and being called into the ministry. She credits her mother; her husband, Johannes; and her sister, Geri Lewis, with being instrumental in her ministry. “My husband always pushed me out and is very supportive of my ministry, and my sister encouraged me,” she said.
Her advice to pastors and ministers is to seek God first but also seek the wisdom and knowledge from fellow pastors who have experience. “You need a mentor, someone who can share his/her experience with you. No man is an island, and no man stands alone.”
Jones enjoys reading, writing, singing, spending quality time with her family — especially her grandchild — eating in new restaurants and visiting with the elderly. An accomplished singer, she was a music major while attending Morris Brown College in Atlanta. Jones also will be featured as one of the singing shepherds during the annual Shepherds in Concert on April 30.
Jones recorded a DVD, “What is Going to Happen to Our World — Crises of Child Abuse and How to Stop It,” and a CD, “I Have a Vision for the World.”
“Not all of the CD is singing. Some of it is spoken word set to music. It is a great educational tool,” Jones said.
Jones earned a bachelor’s of science degree in English language and literature from Savannah State University and a master’s of education in educational learning from Georgia Southern University.
The Joneses live in Savannah, have been married for 41 years and have two children, James and Nicole. They also have one grandchild, Kyler.