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Corey Jones '05

Reverend Corey Jones ’05 Chose Florida Southern College and the United Methodist Church

Jul 17, 2023

Starting July 1, 2023, Florida Southern College alum Reverend Corey Jones ’05 will assume leadership as the Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries at the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp in Fruitland Park, Fla.

Florida Southern College has close ties with the camp which shares an important role with the Connectional and Justice Ministries in The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, both of which have impacted Rev. Jones’s life significantly.

A Firm Foundation

Though he is a minister in the United Methodist Church, Rev. Jones grew up in the Pentecostal church.

Church attendance was mandatory during visits with his grandmother, no exceptions.

“I quickly learned that anytime I was going to my grandmother’s house, that meant we were going to church,” he said. “I remember one time I tried to purposely forget my church shoes, but she made me go in my tennis shoes.”

His faith continued to grow when a friend invited him to attend the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp during his sophomore year of high school. He was able to attend camp because of a scholarship provided by the church.

“We went off to camp that year and I fell in love with the place,” Rev. Jones said. “I continued to go back in various roles, and I have not missed a summer, going at least one week per summer, since 1997, other than Covid 2020.”

He became a counselor, volunteer, small group leader, and worship leader. He was baptized there at age 19 and received his call to the ministry there.

Ties to Lakeland and Florida Southern

Rev. Jones attended school in Lakeland after moving from Winter Haven. He graduated from Lakeland High School, attended Florida State for two years, then transferred to Florida Southern College in the summer of 2002. He graduated from the College with a degree in sociology in 2005 and went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando.

The decision to switch to Florida Southern for his undergraduate degree was influenced by his mother, Sherri Jones ’99, being a Florida Southern graduate. Lakeland being what Rev. Jones called a “United Methodist hub in the Florida conference,” was another factor. Coming home to Lakeland to be closer to his mom and to be a part of his younger brother’s life also played a part in his decision to attend FSC.

From Information to Application

Rev. Jones said his sociology classes with former FSC professor, Dr. Sharon K. Masters, especially the Children and Family course, resonated with him.

“I was able to implement (course lessons) a lot because I was working in the afterschool ministry while finishing my degree,” Rev. Jones said. “That involves a lot of work with children and the family unit.”

Carrying out his duties as a pastor, Rev. Jones models how to be a servant-leader.

“A servant-leader certainly almost seems like it would be opposites, or at least on the opposite ends of a spectrum,” he said. “But from a Christian faith perspective and as a follower of Jesus, that’s exactly what we’re called to do. As He Himself said, ‘I have not come to be served, but to serve.’ So, He teaches the disciples, and really the world, that leadership doesn’t necessarily have to be or have to mean the one who’s always out front, or getting the accolades, or receiving the praise. But leadership shows strength by serving others.”

Rev. Jones says he has grown in that area over the years, and he takes it seriously.

“Leaders have to be out front,” Rev. Jones said. “They have to have a plan. They have to have vision. They have to have a strategy. But we also have to have respect for, and care for, and compassion for those who we are in ministry with or those who we are serving and leading. And to me, over the years, those two things have become one, serving and leading.”

Another practice that Rev. Jones subscribes to is “over-investing in the young”.

For Rev. Jones, over-investing in the young is not just a financial investment, but also an investment of time and mentoring. He advises incoming FSC students to talk with other students, faculty, and staff who have experiences to share. He recommends getting involved and having fun.

He also encourages students to “get plugged in” to a faith community in town and spend time with the FSC religious department professors. One of his mentors, Dr. Waite Willis, was his professor when he attended Florida Southern and presided over his wedding ceremony.

“Find those times, those places to be available for God to pour into you,” Rev. Jones said. “Go to chapel. Utilize what the campus offers if you will.”