- Jones, E. Stanley
- ( 1884-1973 )Methodist missionary to IndiaJones was possibly the best-known and respected Western Christian leader in India in the mid-20th century. His efforts to integrate elements of indian culture into Christianity helped ease indian resentment of the missionary endeavor.Jones was born on January 3, 1884, in Baltimore. A call to the ministry during his high school years ended plans to become a lawyer. He attended Asbury College beginning in 1903. In 1907, though lacking ordination, he became the pastor of the Lal Bagh Methodist Episcopal Church in Lucknow, India. In January 1908, he was ordained first a deacon and immediately thereafter an ELDER. While serving various charges over the next years, he became popular as an outstanding speaker.During the years after World War I, Jones began to seek methods of creating a more indigenous church. He visited the ashrams established by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He also began to hold Round Table Dialogues in which Christians and Hindus would talk as equals, on practical rather than abstract issues.In 1928, the Methodist Episcopal Church (now part of the United Methodist Church) elected Jones as a bishop, but he turned down the honor as it was in conflict with his true calling as a missionary. The church responded by naming him "Evangelist-at-large for India and the world."His experiences led in 1930 to the formation of the first of the Christian ashrams. The small ashram at sat Tal led to a second in Lucknow in 1935. The Ashram movement would spread to some 20 countries, and in the 1950s was picked up by several Roman Catholic priests. The first American ashram was created in Harlem in the 1940s. As a model for the kingdom of God, members worked for racial justice, Puerto Rican self-determination, peace, and Indian independence.Jones's life and thought became the subject of a set of books in the 1920s and 1930s, beginning with The Christ of the Indian Road (1925). His last book, a sympathetic treatment of Gandhi, followed the martyrdom of the Indian leader in 1948.The integrity and trust placed in Jones by both the Protestant community in the West and the Indian people, who had shown some hostility over the activity of missionaries in general, was demonstrated by Time magazine's naming him the world's greatest missionary (1938) and the Indian government's presenting him with the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1964.Further reading:■ E. Stanley Jones, The Choice before Us (New York: Abingdon Press, 1937)■ ----, Christ at the Round Table (New York: Abingdon Press, 1928); , The Christ of the Indian Road (New York: Abingdon Press, 1925)■ Charles Wesley Mark, A Study in the Protestant Christian Approach to the Great Tradition of Hinduism with Special Reference to E. Stanley Jones and P. D. Devanandan (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Theological Seminary, Ph.D. diss., 1988)■ Richard W. Taylor, The Contribution of E. Stanley Jones (Madras, India: CLS/CISRS, 1973).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.