MARY JONES didn't just practice her religious faith - she lived it.
Her membership in the historic Holy Temple Church of God in Christ was her entryway into a life of service to others, especially the sick, the elderly and the incapacitated.
Mary Jones, onetime clerk for Saks Fifth Avenue, where she developed her well-known fashion sense, a world traveler, and a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died Nov. 15. She was 93 and lived in Merion Station, but had lived most of her life in West Philadelphia.
Mary's church had many programs to help the needy, and she was an ardent participant. Whether it meant applying her cooking skills to prepare meals for the sick and shut-ins, visiting the lonely in their homes to lend a friendly ear and spiritual encouragement, running errands for those who couldn't get out on their own, procuring their medication or taking them to doctor's appointments.
She also visited nursing homes and hospitals. And when members died, Mary was with the bereaved to ease the pain of loss with consoling words, and she ushered at every funeral.
"Mother was a faithful, humble, loving, caring, kind and giving woman with a sweet spirit," her family said. "Her life and legacy were living and working for the Lord all her life."
Among Mary's many honors was one she really cherished. The church gave her its "Sweetheart of the Year Award" last June.
Mary was born in Philadelphia to Robert and Alice Wilson. She was raised by her grandparents, John and Lena Lyons, and attended Philadelphia public schools.
Her spiritual life began early. She was baptized at Holy Temple at age 12.
Mary worked for a time for Huey Elementary School, and then went with Saks Fifth Avenue, which "gave her an appreciation for fashion, and she was known for having an impeccable style of dressing," her family said.
As a member of Holy Temple, she served under Bishop Ozro T. Jones Sr., one of the leading figures in the Pentecostal-Holiness denomination. "She grew and matured in her spiritual walk," her family said. When Jones died in 1972, his son, Ozro T. Jones Jr., took over.
In October 1935, Mary and other members (called "saints") marched from the original church home at 57th and Vine streets to its new home at 60th and Callowhill streets.
It was at Holy Temple where Mary met her future husband, Deacon Lester Jones, who ran an appliance business. They were married on Nov. 5, 1941. He died in 2010.
Mary was president of the Senior Usher Board, and was responsible for water baptism and feet-washing rituals with the Priscilla Sisters. She was treasurer of the Pastor's Aid and a member of Hands for the Needy.
Her favorite hymn was "I Won't Complain":
He dried all of my tears away,
Turned my midnight into day.
Mary and her daughter Madeline Jordan often traveled together. They toured seven countries in Europe and took Caribbean cruises. Bermuda was a favorite destination.
"She definitely was a prayer warrior who loved and served the Lord all her life," her family said.
Besides her daughter, she is survived by two other daughters, Geraldine "Gerri" Anderson and Mary Young; a son, Lester Jones Jr.; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.