A chance meeting on the Acadia University campus on a sunny afternoon in September 1954 led to a lifetime friendship between Bob Jones (’63) and Paul Wilson (’58). In a world where relationships are often transient, and despite lives that unfolded in different directions in different parts of the world, their friendship grew and flourished over 67 years.
Bob came to study at Acadia after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, at a time when his self-esteem was at a low point. His confidence increased while at Acadia, which he attributes to both his friendship with Paul and mentorship by Dr. Charles Taylor. Dr. Taylor, a pioneer in the field of Clinical Pastoral Education, was a profound influence on both Bob and Paul. “Charlie was my mentor,” Bob reminisced, “he helped me to discover my self-worth and know that I could be myself.”
During their years together at Acadia, Bob and Paul sang in the Acadia Quartet, with Dr. Taylor often joining them on their road trips. Being the oldest member of the Quartet, the group often looked to Bob for guidance. And on the rare occasions it was needed, Bob was the voice of reason, bringing peace and tranquillity to the group.
Upon graduation, Bob pastored in Lower Aylesford, where he could see the military base in Greenwood. Feeling nostalgic for his days in the Air Force, he served one day per week at the base, which led to a 20-year career in military chaplaincy. He was stationed across Canada – from Nova Scotia to the Yukon, to British Columbia and points between – retiring with the rank of Major while posted in Ottawa. Throughout the many moves and absences from home and family, Bob’s wife Johanne was a constant support, for which Bob was immensely grateful. His military service included a variety of experiences, including six months in the Golan Heights where he and Johanne were invited for a personal tour of Bethlehem together with Mother Theresa.
During his final years with the military, Bob transitioned from chaplaincy to full-time pastoral ministry, eventually returning to Fredericton, where he is a Minister Emeritus at Wilmot United Church. He noted the transition was a smooth one as both forms of ministry focus on counselling people with their struggles.
Despite great distances between them, the two friends stayed in touch and continued to support each other over the years. Paul, who moved to the United States following graduation, expressed his gratitude for Bob’s friendship saying, “He was the touchstone that helped me maintain my Canadian identity and sense of belonging.” Paul also admires Bob’s commitment to ministry as he continues to provide pastoral care to those in need, even when he reached the tender age of 90!
Dr. Paul Wilson, along with his wife Linda, are honouring this friendship and recognizing Rev. Jones’ service as a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces with a $50,000 US gift to establish an endowed fund in support of the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Acadia Divinity College (ADC). This gift also recognizes Dr. Charles Taylor for his contributions to theological education.
In acknowledging this generous gift, Dr. Anna Robbins spoke of God’s blessing to Bob and Paul in forging their lifelong friendship. “We are grateful to Bob and Paul for the opportunity to build on their legacy and have it speak into the needs of the contemporary church.”
ADC recently launched Change with Purpose, a new strategic vision that will chart the future life for the College. “We listened to churches – to their concerns, challenges, and hopes,” Dr. Robbins explains. “We heard loud and clear about the need for training in order to best serve those facing mental health challenges, struggling with addictions, or dealing with grief and loss. Pastors expressed the need for strategies for self-care as well; encountering difficult situations takes its toll on their own mental health. ADC is responding to these needs by making mental health education within our constituency a strategic priority for the College.” The generous gift from Dr. Paul and Dr. Linda Wilson in support of the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care leads the way.
Dr. Dorothy Hunse, Director of the Taylor Centre, expressed her gratitude for the gift, saying, “What a beautiful testimony to the gift of friendship and the gift of chaplaincy and pastoral care. The need for chaplaincy and pastoral care and innovative approaches to theological and personal formation of ministering persons has only increased in recent days. Thank you to Dr. Paul and Dr. Linda Wilson for their generous contribution, enabling us to continue building on the legacy of Charlie Taylor’s insights and ministry.”
Paul and Linda hope their gift will inspire others to join them in supporting the Taylor Centre. “We are extending an invitation to match the Wilson’s generosity and double their $50,000 gift,” says Rev. John Campbell, Director of Advancement. “By supporting the Taylor Centre and pastoral care education at ADC, your gift will make a transformative impact.”
*Image courtesy of Digital Museums Canada. Community Stories Collection: Atlantic Baptist Churches, Past and Present. A Singing Quartet from Acadia Divinity College, 1956.
About the Rev. Robert (Bob) Jones Operating Endowment
Endowed fund established by Dr. Paul and Dr. Linda Wilson of Topsham, Maine in honour of Rev. Robert (Bob) Jones (’63) with gratitude for a 67-year friendship. Given in grateful recognition of the support provided by Acadia University, the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, and Dr. Charles J. Taylor for his contributions to theological education. In recognition of Rev. Jones service as a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, income from the fund will support the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Acadia Divinity College.
About the Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care
The Charles J. Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care was established by Acadia Divinity College in 2011. This Centre fosters and promotes clinical and theological excellence in the area of Pastoral Care through personal growth, the building of professional capacities and rigorous theological reflection. The Taylor Centre trains and prepares men and women for pastoral ministry in specialized forms, including hospital chaplaincy, military chaplaincy, prison chaplaincy, and a variety of other caring professions, for which care for the Spirit is of primary importance.