David Jones
Pastor, Missionary, Revolutionary War Chaplain,
Defender of the Faith

During our country’s heroic and bloody struggle for its independence many men and women rose to the challenge and performed above and beyond the call of duty. One such group were the Baptist chaplains that served faithfully and bravely preaching the Gospel, comforting the sick and dying and when necessary joining in the battle. General George Washington testified that, “Baptist Chaplains were the most prominent and useful in the Army.” One such hero was David Jones, who had been converted and baptized in 1758 at the age of twenty-two. Shortly after his conversion, he felt the call to preach the Gospel and entered the Hopewell Academy in New Jersey. After the completion of his studies he become pastor of the Freehold Baptist Church, Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he was ordained December 12, 1766. His ministry at Freehold prospered until his outspoken views on the rights of Americans to seek independence produced turmoil in the church, which resulted in his resignation in 1775. In April of the same year he became the Pastor of the Great Valley Baptist Church in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The country was in a state of agitation and Elder Jones was invited to preach before the State Militia. His sermon “Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless” was published and widely distributed in the colonies. In 1776 forty-year-old David Jones was appointed a chaplain in the Continental Army. General Washington considered Chaplain Jones a loyal confidant and trusted him to deliver several secret messages. While encamped at Valley Forge, because it was near his home, he was sent on several scouting expeditions in an attempt to discover the enemy’s movements. Once when returning to camp after visiting his family he stopped at a tavern to spend the night. While he was eating his supper his attention was drawn to a stranger who raised his suspicions. Slowly rising to his feet he drew his pistol and placed him under arrest. The man would later admit that he was a British officer. Chaplain Jones’ exploits became such an irritant to the British that General Howe placed a reward upon his head and made several unsuccessful attempts to apprehend him. Jones was present at several of the major battles and barely escaped with his life at the Paoli Massacre. He accompanied General Washington and the Army to Yorktown where he observed Cornwallis’s surrender. At the conclusion of hostilities he returned to Great Valley but his pastorate was again interrupted in 1794. General Anthony Wayne had been ordered to subdue the Indians in the Northwest Territory and he petitioned his old friend and comrade to accompany the troops as their Chaplain. The fifty-eight year old patriot readily volunteered his services. However he did not limit his ministry to the Army but he preached extensively to the scattered settlements in Kentucky and Ohio. Returning home in 1796 he resumed his pastorate. But in 1812 when the British invaded America, his love for his country led him to again volunteer his services. However, the authorities rejected the seventy-six year olds’ request. Not a man to be easily deterred, he appealed to his former military comrades and immediately received his commission. In spite of his young companion’s skepticism this aged Baptist chaplain served his country with distinction. David Jones died at home on February 5, 1820 and was buried at the Great Valley Church. His contemporaries said of him, “In danger he knew no fear, in fervent patriotism he had no superiors and few equals, in the Revolutionary struggle he was a tower of strength . . . and in piety he was a Christian without reproach.”