By Joe Earle
He’s widely known simply as “Bishop Chad,” but don’t let the informality confuse you.
It’s not a sign of his youth, even though at age 39, he is the youngest Anglican bishop in the country.
No, Bishop Chandler “Chad” Jones is quick to say he’s a traditionalist. Tradition is what attracted him to the Anglican church in the first place.
“I consider myself a younger embodiment of that which has gone before,” he said recently during an interview in his office at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Dunwoody. “An embodiment, and a living out, of tradition. I consider myself a person of tradition.”
Jones started out, however, not as an Anglican traditionalist, but as a Southern Baptist. He grew up in the small town of Elkin, N.C., in a Baptist family. He switched to the Episcopal Church as a teenager. He said he “read my way into it” after he discovered works by authors such as C.S. Lewis in the public library. He’s still a reader — a copy of “Wolf Hall,” a historical novel about 16th century England, sat on his desk recently.
While in college, Jones joined the Anglican church, which had split from the Episcopal church. He found the splinter group’s approach more in keeping with the traditions he admired.
The Anglicans split from the larger Episcopal church in the in the 1970s because they believed the American version of the denomination had become too liberal and strayed too far from its original teachings, members say. The Anglicans don’t recognize women priests, and the sign outside St. Barnabas states that the congregation adheres to the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer.
St. Barnabas organized in 1979, said Marguerite Harvey, one of its founders. There were only 13 members in the congregation then, she said. Now there are about 450.
The congregation originally met in member’s homes, gathering in their living rooms, she said. As it grew, the congregation called in a priest. It found it needed larger spaces for services, moving to a bank’s community meeting room, then to a hotel conference room and then to the meeting space in a DeKalb County women’s club.
In the early 1990s, the congregation purchased a former Presbyterian church building in Dunwoody. The building, at 4795 North Peachtree Road, happened to be next to St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. “We moved in next door,” Jones said.
Despite the tangled history of their denominations, the two churches have gotten along well, Jones and Harvey said. They cooperate on ministries, such as the food pantry, Harvey said. “We have coexisted very peaceably,” Harvey said.
Jones moved to St. Barnabas from Florida in 2007 and became the church’s rector, or chief priest, in 2009. “We liked everything about him,” Harvey said. “He was young, he was active and full of spirit.”
She calls Jones “a wonderful scholar” and says he knows his subjects and speaks well. “He know his Bible up and down because he was raised a Southern Baptist,” she said.
Jones is the third bishop to serve at St. Barnabas. The other two were already bishops when they arrived at the church, Harvey said. One, Robert Harvey, became her husband, she said.
Jones formally was elevated Sept. 18 to bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the Anglican Province of America. He is now one of four active Anglican bishops in the country. As a bishop, he continues to minister to the congregation, but also serves as an adviser to other priests.
So, what did he do when he was consecrated a bishop? “I went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House with the [other] bishop and my family,” he said. “And the next day, I went to work. I didn’t go to Disney World, I went to Daytona Beach.”