Beginning today MontanaWriter will be starting a new feature called Hugh’s Journals. It will appear here each Sunday.
Rev. Hugh Bebb Jones (1901-1984)
Hugh Bebb Jones was born in Venedocia, Ohio, on April 20, 1901. His father, Daniel Evans Jones, was a Welsh immigrant and Welsh Presbyterian Pastor. Hugh followed in his father’s footsteps. After graduating from Park College, Parkville, Missouri, he attended McCormick Theological Seminary where he graduate with honors in 1928. After seminary he studied at Edinburgh University in Scotland and at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem.
Hugh was an avid fly-fisher, a great reader, an intellectual, a pastor who took seriously the idea that preaching the Word required serious study. During his life and long ministry in South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and as a Chaplain in WWII, he collected quotations, poems, passages that caught his eye or ear. He re-typed these long and short passages from books and magazines and letters and put them into notebooks that he used as reference for sermons and classes.
I never met Hugh. I began dating is granddaughter, Susan Evans Jones, in 1986, two years after he died. Since I had also gone to seminary, had lived in Montana, and loved fly-fishing and books, she always told me that he would have liked me… and I him.
Sue (and I, by extension) have inherited a number of things that belonged to him: his wicker fishing creel, a bamboo fly rod, and a number of his notebooks. Hundreds of pages of quotations, poems and lines typed and organized… with little handwritten dates indicating when (I assume) they were used in a sermon.
Over the years I have opened the notebooks often, spent quiet evenings randomly turning pages, reading and thinking that something should be done with these “reading journals. It was not until recently that I finally realized that this blog would be the perfect place to do something with them.
I begin with two different pages out of two different notebooks. I choose them because they show, I think, much about him as a pastor, a thinker, and an intellectual.
The first page (below) is from Shackelton. You can see by the note Hugh typed below the quote that he had first read Shackelton, and jotted down this particular quote, in 1928 or ’29 while studying at Edinburgh.
The second page (below) is from Martin Luther King, Jr., his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” You can see from the hand-written note in the upper left-hand corner that he used this quote as part in a sermon on August 11, 1968.
There are 40 years between these quotes. The man who first read Shackleton was 27 or 28. The man who stood in a pulpit in 1968 and talked about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement was 67 or 68. At no time did he stop reading, thinking, growing… as an intellect, as a pastor, as a person of faith.
These two pages show why I have thought so often that something should be done with Hugh’s reading journals… show why MontanaWriter will now be featuring Hugh’s Journals every Sunday here.