Pastor worked for end to violence in McKeesport
McKeesport's Rainbow Temple Assembly of God is gathering this weekend to remember the Rev. Earl Jones.
Jones, 66, of McKeesport, an associate pastor at the midtown church, died on Sunday at UPMC McKeesport.
Jones provided blessing and encouragement for his family and for others who had suffered loss.
At an event in July that marked the first anniversary of his nephew Andre Sims' slaying, Jones said people don't realize that a family or a whole community can be destroyed by death — not by grief alone, but when other natural emotions get the best of people's spirit.
“We are truly divided over these things,” he said. “People are killing each other in a place as little as McKeesport. Families are falling apart because we have hatred. I don't blame you, because it's human nature.”
Jones said it might be hard for the grieving to take his advice, because he is not the one who lost a child. But everyone has experienced something they did not believe was forgivable.
“When you gather together and you walk through these streets or you go to school, you're looking at people who you may think could have done it,” Jones said. “You've got to let some things go. It's not going to be easy, but you can be free.”
Jones said it was impossible to bring his nephew back, but it was possible to be with him in spirit and respect.
“You never should forget this,” Jones said. “But find a way to forgive. You have other little ones out here growing up. It isn't over.”
Jones said holding on to grudges and feuds is emotionally draining.
“Jesus said it himself, when he was hanging on the cross,” Jones said. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
A week before the Sims vigil, Jones encouraged forgiveness among those attending an anniversary vigil for Chauncey Lee Williams, 18, of Duquesne, a former East Allegheny High School football player shot to death on July 1, 2012, in McKeesport.
“If you don't (forgive), it will eat you alive. It will tear you up. I know what I'm saying,” Jones said. “I know it's not easy.”
In July 2008, Jones preached at the funeral of Kia Dorese Johnson of McKeesport, who was murdered by a woman who wanted Johnson's unborn baby.
Jones urged Johnson's family and friends to “retain God” and try to find forgiveness.
“The love of God will hold you, keep you and set you free,” Jones said.
Jones acknowledged at the service at McKeesport's Trinity Church of God in Christ that forgiveness and healing will not be instant, but that holding on to a strong faith in God will help to begin the process.
“He will put comfort in your hearts,” he said. “It all begins with forgiveness.”
Jones had a role in happier moments. In August 2011 he helped conduct Bible study sessions at a back-to-school event at the Unity Fair Grounds.
“We united together by holding hands as Pastor Earl Jones led us in prayer about stopping the violence in our city,” Audrey Stinson said.
Jones centered his talk around Proverbs 22:6.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Jones read.
Surviving Jones is his wife, Karen Regina Mack Jones, four children, two stepchildren, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received on Thursday from 6-9 p.m. and Friday from 2-4 and 6-9 p.m. A funeral service will be conducted by the senior pastor, the Rev. Pete Giacalone, on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Rainbow Temple Assembly of God along Shaw Avenue. Robert A. Waters Funeral Home Inc. is handling arrangements.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.