Philip Jones is back!

Park Cities native follows his calling, which finally brings him home

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By KIRK DOOLEY

Community Columnist

Published 02 April 2011 11:05 PM

Philip Jones is back!

After 40 years, the popular Park Cities native — now known as the Right Rev. Philip Jones — has returned to Dallas to start a new Anglican church.

A 1972 graduate of Highland Park High School, Jones was a senior class favorite and All-Greater Dallas football player. As a tackle for the Scots, he received the “Most Conscientious Scot” award.

He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. In 1977, he married Claudia Clinton, a Camp Longhorn friend from Burnet, Texas. The couple moved to Waco, where Jones earned a law degree and practiced trial law for seven years. Then Mark and Yolie Browne, an Episcopal priest and his wife, walked into their lives and opened a whole new world of faith to them.

“They talked about Jesus like they really knew him,” recalled Jones, then a devout Episcopalian.

Three months after being named a partner in his law firm, Jones heard God calling him to walk away from the legal profession and go into the priesthood.

So in August 1986, Philip and Claudia moved to Alexandria, Va., where he enrolled in Virginia Theological Seminary. They brought along their three small children and left behind four parents, who thought they had lost their minds.

“Our parents were just scared for us,” recalled Claudia. “But our obedience to God outweighed our fears. We both had such a sense of joy about this change in our lives.”

Jones graduated and his first church assignment was, in all places, Waco, where his former law colleagues were still shaking their heads. Jones was now at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. He found himself mowing yards to help make ends meet.

After two years he became a senior minister in Marshall. After seven good years there, he spent another good seven years in El Paso. Meanwhile, a small group in Little Rock, Ark., had left the Episcopal church and got permission to be an Anglican church plant from Rwanda.

Jones was attracted to this group, and he was invited to come take the reigns. “I didn’t leave the Episcopal church because I was mad,” he said, “but in 2005, Claudia and I joined this great group, and I ultimately became an Anglican bishop overseeing six states.”

A group in Dallas — Rev. Ron and Ann McCrary, Lee and Mindy Ritchie, Luke and Susan Madole, Gary and Shauna Redwine, Lucy Washburne, King and Ann Crow, Marshall and DeeAnn Payne, Tim and Ellen Sambrano, and Reagan and Carol Dixon — asked the good bishop for help, then asked him to come home to Dallas to oversee their Anglican church plant, All Saints Dallas.

The group, now averaging 150 visitors per week, is renting the Central Christian Church (4711 Westside Drive, just west of Highland Park) on Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. For information, go to allsaintschurchdallas.org.

Philip and Claudia’s two youngest (of seven children), Simeon and Caroline, are now enrolled at Highland Park High School.

“We are both in awe that God gave us the opportunity to come home to Dallas,” said Jones, who is reacquainting himself with friends he hadn’t seen in four decades.

Has it really been 40 years? It seems like it’s only been 40 days and 40 nights.

 Kirk Dooley is a University Park writer.

©2011, The Dallas Morning News, Inc.