Alonzo T. Jones
President of the California Conference (1901-1904)
Alonzo Trevier Jones was born in Rock Hill, Ohio, on April 26, 1850. He joined the United States Army at the age of 20, serving for five years mostly in western states. Shortly before his discharge, Seventh-day Adventist evangelist Isaac Van Horn baptized Jones in Walla Walla, Wash. He began preaching for the Adventist Church on the West Coast, his sermons often lasting up to two and a half hours! In 1877 Jones and Frances Patten (sister to Van Horn’s wife) were wed. The couple had two daughters, Laneta and Desi.
Jones worked in the Northwest between 1875-1884, during which time he preached and raised up churches in Oregon and Washington. In 1880 the territory was divided into two conferences, and Jones became the first secretary of the new Upper Columbia Conference.
A student of Scripture and history, Jones also had an interest in writing and publishing. In 1884 he became assistant editor for Signs of the Times magazine, based in Oakland, Calif. A few months later, he and Ellet J. Waggoner became co-editors for the Signs, a position Jones held until 1889. At the same time, Jones and Waggoner were also editors of theAmerican Sentinel, the Adventist religious liberty magazine. Jones served in this capacity until 1896. From 1897 until 1901 he was editor in chief of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, with Uriah Smith as associate editor.
In addition to his editorial work in Oakland, Jones was asked to serve as a Bible teacher at Healdsburg College beginning in 1885, and he was also given the responsibility of pastoring the Healdsburg church in 1887.
Jones and Waggoner were at the center of the discussion and debate at the 1888 General Conference session held in M inneapolis over their emphasis concerning the biblical teaching about righteousness by faith—especially in relation to the understanding of the nature of God’s law as described in Galatians. Following these significant meetings, the General Conference Committee sent the two men to preach on that topic around the country, accompanied at times by Ellen White.
When Clarence Santee, president of the California Conference, became the first president of the Southern California Conference in 1901 as part of the division of the California territory, Jones was elected president of the remaining California Conference. His election took place in spite of his increasing criticism against the structure of church leadership! During his presidency he worked to strengthen the conference education system, primarily at Healdsburg College, as well as resolving some issues at St. Helena Sanitarium and Pacific Press. He also was instrumental in establishing medical treatment rooms and a health-reform restaurant in San Francisco, and organizing the Pacific Union Medical Missionary Association.
Jones was reelected president of the California Conference in 1903, but not without controversy. The General Conference leadership realized a change was needed, so late in 1903 they offered him the position of General Conference religious liberty department secretary, which he declined. Instead, in 1904 Jones accepted the invitation of Dr. John H. Kellogg to serve as president of Battle Creek College in Michigan—in spite of counsel given by Adventist church leaders for him not to accept, due to increasing conflict between Kellogg and the Adventist church. Jones became sympathetic with Kellogg’s cause, which ultimately resulted in his separation from denominational employment, as well as loss of church membership.
Jones continued writing and working for religious liberty causes, including involvement with publishing American Sentinel in Washington, D.C. For health reasons, in 1923 he moved back to Battle Creek, where he died on June 28. He was buried in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Some of the books written by Jones include: Abiding Sabbath and the Lord’s Day (1888), National Sunday Law (1889), The Third Angels Message (1895), The Great Empires of Prophecy (1898) and The Empires of the Bible (1904).
1. Portrait of A. T. Jones
2. Portrait of Ellet J. Waggoner
3. 1888 General Conference session
The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 100, No. 26, June 28, 1923 (obituary of Alonzo T. Jones)
From 1888 to Apostasy—The Case of A. T. Jones, by George R. Knight, Review and Herald Publishing
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