Billy Graham Center

Interviews with Cornelius Jerome "C.J." Jones - Collection 371

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Cornelius Jerome "C.J." Jones

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection

Brief Description.
Interview with Jones about his childhood, work with the civil rights movement, John Perkins and the Voice of Calvary, Dolphus Weary and The Mendenhall Ministries, his philosophy of ministry, the impact of TMM on the community, and racial conditions in Mississippi.
Vol: 2 reels of audio tape

Collection 371
[March 23, 2000]
Jones, Cornelius Jerome "C. J."; 1944-
Interview; 1987

2 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Cornelius Jerome Jones, known as "C. J.," was born in 1944 in Pennsylvania, where he lived with his grandparents. His grandfather was active in the United Mine Workers Union and they were the only black family in their small town. His grandparents provided a Christian home and strong role models, especially his grandfather. When his grandfather became ill, C.J. moved to New Jersey to be with his mother, who worked for the Manville Company while living in housing provided by the company. Again, they were the only black family in the community. He and his mother did not regularly attend church because they could not attend the white churches nearby and they did not have transportation to the closest but still distant black church.

Jones soon encountered racial hostility, especially in high school. While he excelled in sports, he discovered that the full sports college scholarships went largely to white students. Jones responded to this exclusion with frustration and bitterness, began running around with a rough crowd, and was arrested. With the help of some caring adults, he was able to attend Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Confronted here with other ideas about race, Jones joined the civil rights movement, later dropping out of school to join the movement full time. Jones rejected his Christian faith due to disillusionment with the hypocrisy he saw in the church.

Jones then went to work for Mary Holmes Junior College in northern Mississippi as the assistant to the vice-president for development and later he began his own business. Through the testimony of a Christian friend, he recaptured his earlier faith and became involved in a church community. He was subsequently invited to join the work of the Mendenhall Ministries in Mendenhall, Mississippi. In 1987, his job description was somewhat open-ended, illustrated by the variety of tasks he oversaw: accounting, planning projects, managing personnel, writing publicity, working with the youth and summer enrichment programs, and coordinating volunteers.

Scope and Content

Cornelius Jerome "C. J." Jones was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 25, 1987, at the Mendenhall Ministries office in Mendenhall, Mississippi. The time period covered by the interview is 1944 to 1987. The boldfaced entries are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Introduction
01:15 Childhood: only black family in town; move to New Jersey; memories; grandparents; religious environment; grandfather as a model; childhood goals
07:00 Developing racial identity; household with no male leadership; impact of racist encounters as a child; segregation of churches
15:00 High school athletics; frustration and bitterness about discrimination; getting into trouble; adult efforts help him gain admission to Tuskegee Institute; culture shock of attending primarily black school
23:00 His ideas about race confronted; quitting school to join civil rights movement; most kids in civil rights movement sons and daughters of preachers; loss of faith and belief in God
28:15 Decision to pursue money; job at Mary Holmes Junior College; opened own business; conversion/rededication through witness of a friend
32:30 Involvement in a church community; encouragement from other believers; invitation to help with Mendenhall Ministries' projects and subsequent improvement of quality of life; work with Artis Fletcher (see CN 374), John Perkins (see CN 367), and Dolphus Weary (see CN 373)
38:30 Differences in ministry methods among leaders; description of ministry philosophy. Need to assume responsibility for the poor. Need for maturity in scriptural and spiritual understanding
44:45 Ministry emphasis on good leadership and on training people to be effective leaders; comparison of modern people and groups to those of the Bible
47:15 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
03:15 Continued comparison of modern and biblical church leaders and communities; methods and time involved in leadership development;
07:45 Beginnings of work with the ministry; positions held; types of work; emphasis on relationships and communication within the ministry; philosophy of ministry measurement and management. Suzanne Griggins (see CN 375). Wide scope of responsibilities as an administrator
16:30 Present responsibilities; working on masters degree; future plans
18:00 End of tape T1

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Start of tape
00:45 Work with John Perkins for the Southern Cooperative Development Fund; differences between Voice of Calvary and The Mendenhall Ministries; Perkins worked to reconcile black and white churches and resolve peoples' fears other races or especially classes
04:45 Dolphus Weary's work to implement models of how things could be. Jones' belief that understanding a project requires the answers to many questions
09:30 View of change from Voice of Calvary to The Mendenhall Ministries
15:45 Impact of ministry on Mendenhall: one black church grows into five churches; youth see possibilities for the future; churches cooperate with each other; community pride; improved community services and race relations; good leadership developed
21:30 End of tape T2


The tapes for this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center in June 1987 from C. J. Jones.

Accession #87-80
July 12, 1994
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
W. G. Thompson

Accession #87-80
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 65 minutes. One side only. Interview with C. J. Jones by Paul Ericksen on July 25, 1987. Jones discusses his childhood, work with the civil rights movement, Voice of Calvary Ministries (VOC), The Mendenhall Ministries (TMM), philosophy of ministry, and racial conditions in Mississippi.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 22 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with C. J. Jones by Paul Ericksen on July 25, 1987. Jones discusses John Perkins and Dolphus Weary, differences between VOC and TMM, and impact of TMM on the community.

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Last Revised: 3/23/00
Expiration: indefinite