Jacob Jones learned how to love the people of his church from the first pastor with whom he studied.
For a little more than a year, Jones has served as pastor of the congregation of Southside Baptist, where the church services are reverent and relaxed.
“We are a simple church where you don’t have to put on your very best or be someone you whom you aren’t, to be welcomed to worship with us,” said Jones.
Church members are like family, he said.
“There are people there who will love and encourage you. There are people there who will give you the shirt of their own backs,” said Jones. “And like any good family, there are people there who will tease you, especially if your favorite team loses the big game.”
Before serving at Southside, Jones was a youth pastor in Tulsa and Poteau.
“I was called into ministry 10 years ago, and the journey has been nothing short of exciting,” he said.
A Spiro High School graduate, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from The University of Arkansas in Fort Smith. He is working on a Master’s of Divinity in Christian Ministries through the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, based in Louisville, Ky.
“I’ve had a desire to help people for as long as I remember, but it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I figured out God wanted me to be a pastor,” he said.
While in college, he struggled to find his career path, and when he stopped looking for his next step, he knew where God was calling him.
During an internship at Grand Avenue Baptist in Fort Smith while Jones was a college student, he worked under the college pastor, Scott Ward.
“He was such a big encouragement for me as I was just starting to figure things out,” said Jones “I also have learned much about ministry from Shane Waldrop, the first pastor I served with. He taught me what it means to have the heart of a pastor, and how to love the people of my church.”
Jones found out about Southside Baptist through a friend who knew the church was looking for a pastor.
“From the first time I visited, I was amazed at how friendly and sincere the people were,” he said. “The city of Tahlequah was an added bonus, and a great place to raise our two kids: Eva, age 2, and Judah, age 1.”
Wife Kristin serves as director of children’s ministries.
Music and youth are important aspects of church worship, Jones said.
“We primarily sing hymns with a mix of newer songs periodically. Our choir is lead by Larry Dotson, who is an extremely talented man who loves the Lord and helps people love to sing,” said Jones.
Most of all, Jones enjoys the people with whom he serves. “It’s great to serve and grow alongside such a loving group of people. Over the past year, we have seen many people come to know Christ,” he said. “One of the biggest areas of growth at our church has been in our youth group.”
Thomas Gardner is the youth pastor.
“He has a heart to see our students grow in the love for God,” Jones said. “God has really blessed our church family over the last year, and we’re all excited to see what more God has in store for us.”
Southside Baptist Church is at 300 Parker St. (around the corner from the Habitat for Humanity office). Sunday school is 9:30 a.m., Morning worship is 10:45 a.m. A fellowship meal begins at 5:15 p.m. and Sunday evening service is at 6. Wednesday evening service is 7. Child care and youth services are available during each of these services. Call (918) 456-2161 for information or go online at www.southsidefamily.net.