contributing writer Kelly Bell
The Reverend Lamar F. Jones, pastor of Hallsville’s Galilee Baptist Church, set out down the Lord’s chosen path for him for a churchman’s classic reason–it was his calling from the Holy Spirit.
“It was a calling from God,” he says. “I accepted his call and his assignment for my life.”
After 30 years in pulpits, he still heeds the will of the Holy Trinity, proclaiming the Word to a lost world that desperately needs it. Still, he serves his parishioners’ and community’s worldly needs as well as the spiritual ones.
He encourages those around him to move forward in all ways that will improve them and their loved ones’ lives. This sinful world has left many unwilling to trust anyone–even God. Jones guides struggling souls onto the straight and narrow where they can accept and be blessed by the endless love and support offered by their Heavenly Father. Bringing them into this fellowship is made easier by convincing as many as possible to attend worship services and financially support their congregation as put forth in the book of Malachi. By being where they need to be (in church) these souls can receive all that Jesus Christ has reserved for them. Jones delights in his successful efforts.
“My joys come from seeing [church] members grow in the Lord and be able to enjoy and be able to enjoy and experience all that God has in store for them,” he said. “I get joy when God answers our members’ prayers and heals their bodies.”
The effects of Jones’ efforts are apparent. He has seen his parishioners grow in the faith and be willing to donate their time, efforts and resources to many worthy causes. The Community Outreach Mission, the Hallsville National Day of Prayer and the Martin Luther King Celebration have all benefitted from the toil and support of Galilee Baptist members’ eagerness to assist others. The church also works with the East Mount Olive District Association, Texas Educational Baptist State Convention and the National Baptist Convention. This congregation keeps a lot on its plate, and never shrinks from reaching out to new endeavors.
Eight of its members traveled all the way to Germany for the National Congress of Christian Education convention. The church supports the Hallsville Christmas Parade, the Community Thanksgiving Service and the Hallsville Community Sunrise Service. They even collect used shoes donated for the homeless. Jones’ busy, fruitful example is evident in his hard-working congregation. It is understandable that prideful people could never fail to follow the lead of such a devoted servant of the Almighty–someone so willing to shed his blood, sweat and tears to improve both the spiritual and worldly lot of the less-fortunate and less-blessed multitude surrounding him. Mainly, though, his drive is to see the lost become the saved.
“We are having people accept Christ as their Personal Savior,” he said. “The water is running and people are being baptized.”
Galilee Baptist does indeed stand out from most houses of worship. Its perpetually open door signifies its total lack of exclusivity. As Jesus Himself turns no one away, neither does this congregation which acts as a progressive resource that makes all God’s people feel welcome.
“I would say our church is different because we are accepting of all people. It’s not about what you wear or your background, our church is an open door for all,” says Jones. “We realize it is not our job to judge others, but to be a place where anyone can find help in their time of need. We strive to live the WORD!”
This philosophy is demonstrated by the warm, loving greeting church members extend to all visitors who come to worship among them. Just as Jesus loved all, so does the membership of Galilee Baptist, and there is no mistaking it.
“Our love is not shown just shown to friends and family, but to all people,” says Jones.
This unconditional love is perfectly in line with the Lord God’s all-encompassing will for His children. Straying from this mission can result in His withholding his blessings from those who do not follow His direction.
“I love my church family,” says Jones. “My desire would be for them to trust God more in order to avoid some of the hurts and pains that come from not following God’s word at all times.”
Jones’ personal vision for his church is for it to keep on going in this same direction, expanding its work and outreach as it goes. Thriving in the midst of a burgeoning East Texas population Galilee Baptist’s importance to the region can only grow.
“I see us as a lighthouse that will draw others to Christ,” says Jones.
His wife Tyra is the proverbial great woman behind a great man. He calls her his “#1 cheerleader” whose steadying, supportive influence is a great boon to his career of service. Apart from caring for children in their church, she serves as a women’s Sunday School teacher and a counselor to the church’s young couples.
“My wife is truly my help mate and the one who has learned to share me with others in ministry,” says Jones.
Jones can see how our present society is steadily moving away from what it most needs–devotion to Jesus Christ. He is doing all in his ability to steer us all back into the holy fellowship. His church’s members can see it happening.
“Pastor Lamar F. Jones is an awesome man of God,” says new member Pamela Benjamin. “He’s supportive and kind and very patient. Galilee family is full of compassion and love.”
But that is not all.
Pastor Lamar Jones has been employed with Longview ISD for 20 years. He has served as the OCS instructor at Foster Middle School and Longview High School as well as a member of the Dade Center staff. The Dade Center serves as the DAEP [Discipline Alternative Education Placement] for Longview ISD. He is currently serving as the coordinator of the Credit Recovery program/ Drop Out Prevention for Longview High School.
Pastor Jones is serves in the Clergy coalition, Ministerial Alliance, NAACP organizations too numerous to list. Anyone who know Pastor Jones will agree Pastor Jones is always available to lend a hand in the community.