Rev. Gloria Jones

We interviewed Rev. Gloria Jones about her experience of joining Christ Gospel Church in the early 1960s. Rev. Jones is one of the pastors of Christ Gospel Church of Pinellas Park, Florida. She is also the national director of the church’s youth Bible quiz ministry.

Rev. Jones paints a stark contrast between the segregated world she had to endure and the love and acceptance she felt at Christ Gospel Church. Whereas many church’s in the 1960s were segregated (both formally and informally), Christ Gospel Church was never segregated. Rev. Jones recounts how she and those traveling with her had to drive straight from Florida to Indiana (approximately 1,000 miles) in one day. They were barred from staying in hotels and eating at most restaurants.

Yet she states that Rev. Hicks not only treated her and other African-Americans with respect, but with love and acceptance. Jones said that Rev. Hicks genuinely valued her as a person.

Nearly twenty years later, in 1984, the Jones were searching for land upon which they could build a new church in Florida. At the time, the neighborhood they were looking at was all white, and the realtors refused to sell them a property. When Rev. Jones told Rev. Hicks what was happening, Rev. Hicks (along with her daughter Beverly) flew down to Florida and purchased the property for the Joneses – in effect, forcing the neighborhood to integrate. The church experienced threats and intimidation after that, but the Joneses and their congregation remained steadfast; the church is still there, growing and thriving.