Street to honor Barstow pastor
Grew parish to 300 members
BARSTOW • The city on Saturday will rename the street in front of Barstow Church of God in Christ to Bishop Nathaniel Jones Jr. Way, honoring the man who was integral in launching the church decades ago.
Jones came to Barstow in 1960 after serving in the Korean War and playing professional baseball to found Barstow Church of God in Christ and rose steadily in the church’s ranks. He became district superintendent in 1961 and joined the ministry full time in 1965.
Jones grew the church from six members to around 300 members, Pastor David Norman told the Planning Commission in May.
“He really pushed for the membership and he was very successful in gaining it,” said Norman, who knew Jones for 41 years.
Jones became jurisdictional bishop of Utah in 1971 and of Idaho in 1976. He was a member of the Advisory Board to the Mayor of Barstow and the Barstow Community Hospital Board, as well as many other organizations, Norman said. Jones died in 2001.
Norman, who grew up in Barstow, said Jones was a father figure to him after his own father died while he was a sophomore at Kennedy High School. Norman went on to attend Barstow Community College and Colorado State University. Jones was “a champion for the poor,” Norman said.
While the church only had six original members, they had large families, creating a starting point for growth, Norman said.
The growth, though, was not without challenges.
The church burned down on Thanksgiving morning in 1988 after what authorities believed was arson, Norman said.
“It was a shock to all of us,” Norman said.
No suspects were ever found to be responsible for the blaze, which came shortly after the church had paid off the mortgage on its building.
Jones’ inspirational messages resonated with Norman and others who worshipped with him, Norman said.
“It’s not the land,” Norman said Jones would often tell parishioners, “it’s the man.”
Norman took that to mean that anyone could still reach their dreams if they had strong character, despite where they were from. It was a message that resonated with him, he said.
He said the church had wanted to have a street renamed for years, but Councilman Willie Hailey Sr. pushed the issue forward in recent months.
Jones modeled his life after Christ and the Bible, while also acknowledging Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Norman said.
He said it was an honor to know that all future visitors to the church would see the street sign and remember Jones.
Jones “always represented his church ... in a very unique and commendable way,” Planning Commissioner Carmen Hernandez said, before the commission unanimously approved the renaming.
The move was “just a small token of our appreciation for the difference he made in our community,” City Manager Curt Mitchell said in a statement.
IF YOU GO
What: Street renaming ceremony for Bishop Nathaniel Jones Jr.
Where: Barstow Church of God in Christ, 1375 Sage Drive
When: Saturday at 10 a.m.
Contact the writer: (760) 256-4126 or firstname.lastname@example.org