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Bishop L. Bevel Jones, III
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Obituary for Bishop L. Bevel Jones, III

BISHOP LEWIS BEVEL JONES III
July 22, 1926 – March 6, 2018

Bishop Lewis Bevel “Bev”Jones III died of complications from dementia at Budd Terrace on Tuesday, March 6 in Atlanta at the age of 91. Bishop Jones is survived by his three children and their spouses, David and Cathy Jones, Mark and Frances Jones, and Sharon and Dave Brewer; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Mildred, known by everyone as “Tuck.”

Gary Hauk, historian and senior advisor to the president of Emory University, described Bev as “Georgian by birth, Christian by faith, Methodist by conviction, proud Emory alumnus, seeker of justice, advocate for peace and unity among peoples, engaging teacher, eloquent preacher, and pastor to the despairing and dispossessed as well as to the powerful and the privileged.”

Bev was born on July 22, 1926 in Gracewood, Georgia to the Rev. L.B. and Trudy Jones. He received his bachelor’s degree from Emory in 1946 and his divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in 1949.

That same year he and Tuck married and started Audubon Forest Methodist Church in Cascade Heights. In 1957 Bev helped fashion a statement calling for racial reconciliation as resistance to school desegregation escalated throughout the South. The statement was signed by 80 ministers, including Bev, and dubbed the Ministers’ Manifesto. Late in life he called the Manifesto one of the most significant achievements of his ministry. It was one of the first times a mainstream white group in the Deep South had spoken out for racial tolerance.

Bev went on to serve five more churches in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church before being elected bishop in 1984 and serving the Western North Carolina Conference. In 1996 he retired and returned to Candler as bishop-in-residence and a special assistant in Candler's development office. In 2008 Candler created an endowed professorship in his name - the L. Bevel Jones III Chair in the Practice of Ministry.

Bev was a long-time trustee of Emory and seven other United Methodist institutions. He was also an Emory-appointed member of the board of The Carter Center. In gratitude for his leadership, LaGrange College, High Point University, and Pfeiffer University awarded him honorary doctoral degrees, as did Emory.

Bev served on the boards of Day1/The Protestant Hour, the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, the Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta, and many other organizations. He was a lifetime member of the Atlanta Rotary Club; an officer of the World Methodist Council; cheered for the Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs; served for years as the honorary chaplain of the Atlanta Braves; loved his family, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, inclusivity, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and a good story; never met a stranger; and never forgot a name.

Dr. James Laney, president emeritus of Emory University said Bev had “an infectious twinkle in his eye that gave him unparalleled access to people’s hearts. His humor, velvet voice, and passion for the church made him one of the best-loved preachers of his generation.”


A memorial service is scheduled for 2 o’clock on Saturday, March 24, at Decatur First United Methodist Church, 300 East Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur, where Bev was senior pastor from 1967-76. A reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the L. Bevel Jones Chair in the Practice of Ministry, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1762 Clifton Rd, Suite 1400, Atlanta, GA 30322. Or to the Methodist retreat center where Bev and Tuck met in 1947: Camp Glisson, 690 Camp Glisson Rd, Dahlonega, GA 30533.


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Previous Events

A Celebration of Life Service

Saturday

24

Mar

2:00 PM
Decatur First United Methodist Church

300 East Ponce de Leon Avenue
Decatur, GA 30033

A reception will follow his services

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