At the York Chapel memorial service for Jameson Jones, the student who would become Susan Pendleton Jones recognized that the Joneses’ son Greg, a first-year student, was sitting nearby.
“I found it very moving that he was so open about his grief,” recalls Susan. “It was impressive that he didn’t seem to care that the other students saw that.”
The two met in a course that fall, and Greg invited her to a performance at Duke Chapel of divinity professor Stuart Henry’s chancel opera, which Henry dedicated to Jameson Jones. They became engaged in the spring, and their wedding the following October was scheduled during semester break.
“We had a very romantic honeymoon of two nights in the Greensboro Hilton,” quips Greg, who had to get back for classes the next day. The couple was later ordained together at Lake Junaluska, N.C., beginning a lifelong partnership in ministry.
Their complementary styles—he thinks “big picture,” while she attends to details— “helps me dream, while I try to keep his feet on the ground,” says Susan. They have found numerous ways to share in each other’ vocation, adds Greg, including serving in congregations and leading workshops and retreats. “We enjoy any opportunity to work together and share in each other’s gifts.”
Greg credits her with helping to cast the vision for the Divinity School, particularly for the Westbrook Building and Goodson Chapel. After serving as United Methodist chaplain to Duke’s Wesley Fellowship, Susan became director of special programs at the Divinity School, where she led the building project from 2001 to 2005, and is now director of field education.
“I consistently have been inspired by Susan’s ministry both in local congregations and here at the Divinity School,” Greg says. “Her wisdom and insight are catalysts for all that I do.”
Everything that she learned at Duke, says Susan, who came to seminary eager to move beyond the fundamentalist faith she’d known growing up in Virginia Beach, Va., left her wanting to give back.
“I hope that the creation of the Westbrook Building as a place that ‘speaks’ of Scripture—through the limestone arches and the commissioned art—will be a reminder to all those who work and study here that a scriptural imagination is what should shape our lives and ministries.”
The Joneses have three children: Nate, 23, Ben, 20, and Sarah, 15. Nate is a 2009 graduate of Duke University and a rising middler at the Divinity School. He co-founded Religio, a Duke undergraduate journal of Christian thought, and plans to combine his love of music—he is a baritone soloist—with ministry.
Ben is a rising junior studying economics and Chinese at Duke, where he is head student manager for the football team. An accomplished marathon runner, he is currently studying abroad in Beijing.
Sarah, a rising sophomore at East Chapel Hill High School, shares the family’s interest in music. She sings soprano roles in genres ranging from show tunes to opera.
— Elisabeth Stagg