“Dr. Greg Jones has provided exceptional, imaginative leadership not only to Duke Divinity School, but also to the whole church. He’s asked new questions, offered creativity, and brought hope....”
— Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
“The Divinity School is very clear about its support of the church, and Greg has helped to hone that vision. The theological posture of the school, the formation of faculty and staff, and the stance toward the church are remarkable.”
— Justin Coleman D’05, lead pastor, Gethsemane Campus of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Houston, Texas
“Thank God for giving Dean Jones the vision for the Th.D. program.”
— Robert Ewusie Moses D’08 and current Th.D. student at the Divinity School
Paul Massingill D’00, who began the M.Div. program at Duke in 1997, says he found the new dean “surprisingly approachable.” As a member of the Divinity School’s student government association, Massingill quickly came to know both Greg and Susan Jones, who led Duke University’s Wesley Fellowship.
Massingill remembers a long walk with Greg Jones around Lake Junaluska at a Wesley Fellowship retreat during the summer of 1998. Massingill was thinking about becoming engaged to fellow student Amber Willis, and he wanted Jones’ advice.
“Part of his answer was that you definitely want to share your life with someone who will help you claim the gifts you don’t want to claim, and challenge the vices that you love,” Massingill says. “He asked some great questions that really became part of my thinking and praying and discerning.”
Paul and Amber became engaged, and when the two were married following graduation in 2000, the Joneses presided at the wedding.
When Associate Dean Wesley F. Brown D’76 paid tribute to the leadership of Greg and Susan Jones at an April 22, 2010, celebration, his remarks echoed some of the dean’s best-known phrases.
“So, Greg, I believe I can say without fear of contradiction, and in what should be very familiar language, that with ‘traditioned innovation’ you cherish ‘holy friendships’ with ‘extravagant faithfulness’ and an outrageous ambition for the Gospel—otherwise expressed as ‘a love of learning and a desire for God’ that is, in shorthand, ‘love and desire.’
“You have taught us the grace of daily obedience, albeit at a hectic pace. And we know that you despise mediocrity masquerading as faithfulness even as you encourage ‘Resurrecting Excellence’ through ‘big dreams within a responsible structure.’
“You have a photographic memory, and almost boundless energy. You are a Diet Coke addict, passionate about Twizzlers, and known to dig deeply into jelly bean jars for certain select flavors.
“You have observed that ‘vocation is any job that continues to make more of you,’ and though we will miss your leadership as dean, it is clear that Duke University will continue to ‘thrive and flourish’ on a ‘truly remarkable trajectory’ as you assume responsibilities as vice president and vice provost for global strategy and programs, and our colleague Richard Hays becomes the new dean of the Divinity School
“So, Greg, as you endure the tributes, jibes, and accolades of this evening we trust that, because ‘Everyday Matters,’ you will be ‘Embodying Forgiveness’ toward all of us who are privileged to be your colleagues and friends.”
An ‘Extravagant’ Title
One of her favorite stories about Dean Jones, says Mary Ann Andrus, who has served as his administrative staff assistant since 2003, involved a misunderstanding about the title for the sermon Jones had been invited to preach at an Episcopal church.
“The church staff thought that Greg’s title was ‘His Extravagant Holiness,’ ” says Andrus, “when actually that was the title of his sermon. The bulletin left the sermon title empty, but listed the dean’s title as “H.E.H. L. Gregory Jones.”
Jones found the mistake amusing, she says, and the two of them have shared a laugh about it many times. “I’m going to miss Greg very much!” she says.
Jameson Jones’ Legacy of Compassion
William C. Turner, associate professor of the practice of homiletics, was appointed in 1982 by Dean Jameson Jones, Greg’s father, whose term as the Divinity School’s 9th dean ended after 18 months when he suffered a fatal heart attack.
“Jameson Jones was a gentle and kind person who had great compassion for the church and for the students here,” says Turner, who still remembers a “caring and nurturing conversation” with the dean soon after being appointed to the faculty.
“At the time I was pastoring a church, finishing my Ph.D. dissertation, and about to start teaching. My attitude was that I could tackle anything. Jameson Jones helped me realize that something would have to give, and I realized he was right,” says Turner, who decided to resign his pastorate. He still appreciates the way in which Jones helped him recognize the realities of his new position.
When Greg Jones became dean in 1997, Turner says he sensed that “Greg came back to finish his father’s work. He has the same kind of drive and energy that his father had, and he’s accomplished amazing things here — from the new building to the growth of the faculty.”