Non-traditional is one way to describe Elder Frank B. Jones’ path to ministerial service. Currently, he serves as the pastor of Pentecostal Temple in Compton, but based on his history, few would have guessed that he would be in this position.
Pastor Jones’ career includes stints ranging from Air Force officer to flight instructor to airline pilot to Black Panther Party Deputy Minister of Information and editor of the Black Panther Newspaper.
“I have a very diverse background,” acknowledged ElderJones. “I earned eight Air Medals and an Air Force Commendation Medal for my service in Vietnam. After resigning from the Air Force, I was hired as a pilot with United Airlines, and two years later, I joined the Black Panther Party.”
Not surprisingly, his participation in the Black Panthers drew the attention of federal authorities.
“Although I wassubpoenaed to testify before the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Un-American Activities and before a grand jury in San Francisco, I was never found guilty of anything, but I recently haveused the Freedom of Information Act to acquire 221 page of FBI documents about the FBI’s surveillance of me while I served as a Black Panther,” he said.
After leaving the group, Elder Jones remained with United as a pilotand became president of the United Airlines Black Caucus, an organization that advocated for increased hiring of African Americans, especially pilots. He also volunteered with the Office of Economic Opportunity, aU.S. governmentservice group. But, when he complained to superiors that the majority of funding was being allocated to administrators instead of those in need, he was no longer welcome to volunteer.
Because he was an admirer of Malcolm X, Elder Jones considered converting to the Muslim faith and recalled, “I went on a missionary trip to Guyana, South America, with a Muslim group from Pakistan, and while on that trip, I decided to become a Muslim.
“I was given the name of Faryd Aslum which I was told means, ‘the unique one who has found peace.’ But, I found that being a Muslim did not give me the peace I was seeking, so I stopped practicing Islam.”
Soon, he accepted an invitation to attend a friend’s church where he found the peace he sought.
“I began worshipping as a Christian and accepted my call into the Christian ministry. I also began a diligent study of the Bible, including the Greek and Hebrew languages.”
Now that he is a pastor, Elder Jones is committed to financial accountability and has become a staunch advocate for full financial disclosurefrom churches.
“I believe that the financial secrecy the government allows churches to maintain has attracted people into the ministry who use that secrecy to amass fortunes for themselves. These people are more interested in getting wealthy than they are in reaching out for souls that need to be saved or reaching out to help the poor,” he insisted.
“After the profits are removed from the pulpit, only the prophets will remain. The exploitation of many Black people has moved from the plantation to the pulpit. I will fight, with the sword of the Spirit, to end that exploitation.
“I am no longer a Black Panther, but I am a panther in the pulpit!”