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90-year-old pastor seems like ’40- or 50-year-old’

WEST POINT, Ky. (BP)–Despite 21 funerals in his church the past six years, Sunday school attendance now averages 35 to 40, compared to a handful when he started.
He has baptized eight teenagers since last spring and, in the past six months, he said, he has led seven men to accept Christ as Savior, he said, including a cancer patient on his deathbed.
At age 90 — one of the oldest active pastors in the nation — D.E. Jones says, “Experiences like that keep me going.
“I feel the Lord is leading me in what I’m doing. I expect to fall over in the pulpit. I want to go out saying, ‘Jesus saves!'”
Jones is leading his flock at West Point (Ky.) Baptist Church to visit every home in town by Oct. 31, a repeat of an outreach when he came to this Meade County town of 1,200 in 1991.
When he knocks on doors he tells people, “This is old Preacher Jones. We want you in church, we need you and the Lord needs you, and he loves you.”
“He always has a vision in front of him, looking to the future,” said associate pastor Doug Mitchell, who Jones baptized 39 years ago. “He’s never one to be discouraged or depressed.
“He’s been quite an inspiration for the whole community. He’s quite energetic for his age. To be 90 years old, I would compare him to a 40- or 50-year-old.”

In addition to his pastorate, Jones leads Tuesday worship services at the Baptist Home East nursing home in Louisville and on Wednesday mornings he visits the city’s Allied Systems trucking company, where he has served as a part-time chaplain for 16 years.
“Keeping busy keeps you young,” Jones says. “I think just keeping busy has kept me alive. If I didn’t have anything to do I wouldn’t get up ’til 9 o’clock.”
“We couldn’t get along without him,” commented Allied Systems manager Dave Coleman, lauding Jones for lending moral support to the plant’s 184 employees.
“When he decides to retire it will be hard on all of us. He’s very inspirational. He knows the right thing to say at the right time.”
“He has an outlook on life that many people don’t have,” said his son, Ron, a former school administrator and member of Highland Park First Baptist Church in Louisville.
“He doesn’t really worry. I think that’s one secret to his long life. He’s had problems and difficult situations throughout his life. He meets them, thinks about it and goes to the Lord in prayer.”
He also maintains a sense of humor. According to Ron, his favorite saying is, “I run like a race horse, eat like a pig, sleep like a log and don’t have an acre of pain.”
Since his call to the ministry in 1933, he has pastored a dozen churches and two missions while earning degrees from Georgetown College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
His longest stint in one place lasted 30 years, starting in 1943 at South Jefferson Baptist Church in Louisville. He is proudest of his service there, since the Southern Baptist congregation helped start three others — Valley Station, Kosmosdale and New Salem.
Unlike modern mega-churches, he said, when Sunday school attendance reached 750, South Jefferson chose church planting over expansion.
Besides his son, the pastor has a daughter, Judith Richardson, a physician with the Veterans Administration in Ft. Meade, S.D. Ruth, his wife of 52 years, died in 1990 after her second heart operation.

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  • Ken Walker