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Retired Indianapolis Bishop Edward Jones dies at 78


Edward Witker Jones, ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, died at Meadowood Health Pavilion in Bloomington, Indianapolis, on the morning of July 28. He was 78.

Jones had suffered a fall in February and surgery was undertaken to stop the bleeding caused to his brain. In May, it was discovered that the bleeding had recurred and he made the decision not to undergo further surgery.

“These past months have provided time for his family and friends to visit with him, and to join them in prayer and preparation for a holy death,” Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick said in a letter to the diocese. “Bishop Ted served this diocese faithfully and with great care and gentleness for two decades. His ability to see and affirm the very best in every person gave him a generosity of spirit which is rare and precious.”

Jones was elected bishop coadjutor of Indianapolis in March 1977 and consecrated on September 10 that same year as diocesan bishop, a position he held for 20 years until his retirement in 1997.

“His friendships with the clergy and members of our diocese make this loss especially difficult to claim, but we do claim it -- knowing that in Christ every death is followed by a resurrection,” Waynick said in her letter.

Before becoming bishop, Jones served as an assistant minister at Grace Episcopal Church in Sandusky, Ohio, from 1954-57; rector of Christ Church in Oberlin, Ohio, and Episcopal Chaplain to Oberlin College from 1957-68; assistant to the bishop of Ohio in Cleveland from 1968-71; and rector of St. James Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1971-77.

Jones attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1951-53 and graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1954.

Active in community affairs, Jones was a chaplain to the Sandusky Fire Department and, in Oberlin, co-sponsored the first fair housing ordinance in the state of Ohio. He cherished ecumenical and interfaith relationships, working closely with Christian and Jewish laity and clergy in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. He served as national co-chair of the Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue, celebrating the fruit of that work when the resulting agreement was affirmed by the church’s General Convention in Philadelphia in 1997 and represented the church when the concordat with the Scandinavian Lutheran churches was celebrated in England.

Jones worked on the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops which presented the case for the ordination of women to the episcopate to the 1988 Lambeth Conference. He served as chief judge of the Episcopal Church’s Ecclesiastical Court; traveled with other clergy and laity to Nigeria, supporting a companion diocese relationship with the dioceses of Aba and Niger Delta; and was the Episcopal Church’s representative to the 25th anniversary celebration of the Church of South India.

Jones is survived by his wife, Martha Anne, their three children and their spouses and families: Martha (Jones) and Mark Patricof, and their daughters Lily and Nina; Caroline (Jones) and Peter Hubbell, and their son Teddy; and David Edward Jones, his wife, Elise, and their children Jasper and Summer.

“We give thanks for the life and ministry of Bishop Jones, and ask your prayers for Anne and their family,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “The servant of the servants of God has found his rest, thanks be to God.”

Memorial services will be held at Trinity Church, 111 South Grant Street, at 2 p.m. on Friday, September 7, and at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 8. Interment will follow in the columbarium of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 4600 East 46th Street, Indianapolis.


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