Garland, Texas Mayor Ronald Jones Becomes 113th Pastor of Dallas' First African-American Church

In Garland, they call him mayor. But at New Hope Baptist Church in South Dallas, Ronald Jones is known as reverend.

On Sunday, he became the 113th senior pastor at the church, which was Dallas' first African-American church in 1837.

When he was first elected Garland's mayor in 2007, he made history himself as the first black candidate to win that position.

But Jones said that milestone was not a big deal for him.

"Many people didn't realize how much the city had progressed," he said.

Jones' civic life in Garland dates back almost 30 years.

For more than five years he served as Garland's assistant city manager, and before that he oversaw a total of 14 different departments.

Now, after being re-elected twice, he will reach his term limit in May. But he sees his work in South Dallas as a continuation of his role as a spiritual leader.

"I always looked at the mayor's office as a ministry," he said after his formal investiture ceremony Sunday evening at the church.

During the first half of the service, Jones and his wife, Peggy, sat in the front pew while fellow elected officials offered congratulations and shared memories.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke of the church's power to change the city.

"What you do is so important to this city," he said. "Work with me as we help to rebuild South Dallas in a way that nobody would ever believe. ... I look forward to partnering with you."

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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News
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