Clinton Robert Jones, Jr., was born November 8, 1916, in Brookfield, Connecticut, the only child of Clinton Robert Jones and Henriette Elizabeth (Morehouse). Clinton, Jr., was raised on a large farm managed by his father. His parents were Episcopalian and Henriette was a church organist. His father had been a Congregationalist before his marriage. The Rev. Charles Carpenter, Clinton's boyhood pastor at St. Paul's Church in Brookfield, was influential in Clinton's life.
Henriette died during Clinton's junior year at Danbury High School. He received a B.A. degree from Bard College in 1938. His intention had been to go to law school, but instead he enrolled at General Theological Seminary in New York City where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1941. He was ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut on June 15, 1941, and pastored at St. James Church in New London from 1941 to 1945. The following year he served as a chaplain for the U.S. Maritime Service. He became assistant minister of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford in 1946 and two years later became Canon, a position he held until his retirement in 1986. He was then named a "Life Canon." He joined the Greater Hartford Regional Ministry that serves four small churches in 1990 and continues to the present.
As part of his ministry at the Cathedral, Canon Jones was heavily involved in youth work and served as director of youth for the diocese from 1946 to 1953 and as a member of the National Youth Commission for the denomination from 1947 to 1951.
In 1963, Canon Jones was appointed to the Rehabilitation Committee under the auspices of the Social Service Department of the Greater Hartford Council of Churches. At the time the committee was working on issues related to alcoholism. When an inquiry was received from a parish in East Hartford seeking assistance on how to deal with a situation in which a janitor had been accused of sexual misconduct with a young boy, Canon Jones was assigned to gather information available regarding homosexuality. This sparked a personal interest and engagement in ministry with sexual minorities that Canon Jones pursued in the decades to follow.
Canon Jones' research on homosexuality spurred the formation of a special task force at the Greater Hartford Council of Churches in 1965 that included clergy as well as psychologists and other social service professionals. This task force was originally called the Homosexuality Committee but soon changed its name to Project H.
As Canon Jones and the Project H team continued their research into homosexuality they became aware of the George W. Henry Foundation in New York. Founded in 1947, the foundation was led by Dr. Alfred Gross who provided counseling and assistance to homosexual persons. After inviting Dr. Gross to come to Hartford to talk with them about his work, a Hartford chapter of the George W. Henry Foundation was established.
In 1968-69, Canon Jones studied counseling at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City and completed an S.T.M. degree at New York Theological Seminary. He subsequently began a counseling ministry at the Cathedral as well as gathering an extensive library on homosexuality there. In his ministry he came into contact with a number of transgendered persons. Along with Dr. George Higgins, professor at Trinity College, Canon Jones and other professionals developed an extensive program of counseling and psychological services for persons seeking gender reassignment. The "Twenty Club," a support group for transgendered persons was created at the Cathedral and met for more than 30 years and has since continued at the GLBT Community Center.
Widely known for his expertise of issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, Canon Jones served on a special Task Force on the Church and the Homophile for the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church from 1972 to 1975. He continued to serve on the diocesan Project H Committee, renamed the Committee on Sexual Minorities in 1980, until his retirement in 1986.
When persons in his congregation told hold him stories about mistreatment and abuse of homosexual prisoners, Canon Jones began a prison ministry in which he went to the prison to interview and counsel gay prisoners every two to three weeks over 20 years.
He published three books: What About Homosexuality, Thomas Nelson & Co., 1972; Homosexuality and Counseling, Fortress Press, 1974; and Understanding Gay Relatives and Friends, Seabury Press, 1978. In addition, he published and presented many articles and research papers.
The Friends of Christ Church Cathedral inaugurated an annual Canon Clinton R. Jones Award at a dinner honoring Jones' forty years of active ministry at the Cathedral on November 12, 2005.
Canon Clinton Jones died at his home on June 3, 2006, survived by his partner of more than 40 years, Kenneth Woods.
The sermon at Canon Jones' memorial service on June 7, 2006, given by the Rev. William Doubleday, can be heard at: mms://media14.cqservers.com/cccathedral/sermon060706.mp3
(Information for this biographical statement taken from a biography of Canon Jones compiled by Frank Gagliardi, associate library director at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and a videotaped interview with Canon Jones by Joihn Plotica and Isaac Miller, Jr., on November 4, 2002, in the Gender Equity Archives at CCSU. Additional information from Canon Jones.)
Biography Date: June, 2005
Episcopal Church | Gross, Alfred | George W. Henry Foundation | Author/editor | Clergy Activist | Connecticut | Hartford | Jones, Clinton
“Canon Jones was a lifelong friend of my family. He married my parents in 1949; they are both alive and still happily married. My brother, Clinton R. Marth, was named after Canon Jones who was also my brother's godfather.”
– as remembered by Tammy Marth Ayers on August 28, 2014
“I have so many wonderful memories of Canon Jones. I first met him while I was doing a CPE residency at Norwich State Hospital in 1973. I found out about Project H and used to drive to Hartford for meetings, I had just recently come out after my ordination in the United Church of Christ. I had read “What About Homosexuality” and wanted to meet Canon Jones. In subsequent years I became very active in the GLBT community in Hartford and Canon Jones and myself did speaking and workshops together. I especially remember the time he hosted one of his elegant suppers to bring together a bunch of gay and straight clergy to meet Jay Deacon, the first pastor of the new UFMCC Hartford Church. When the executive Committee of the National Council of Churches met in Hartford in 1981 to consider the membership of the UFMCC denomination, it was Canon Jones who arranged for us to have in interfaith service in Christ Church. Two services were planned, one in celebration of the vote went in our favor and one as a social justice testimony if the vote failed, which it did. I left Hartford in 1984, but Canon Jones and I exchanged Christmas cards each year until his death. He was one of a handful of men who had an incredible impact on my life.”
– as remembered by Ken South on February 7, 2013
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