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EDITOR'S VOICE >>
Ed Jones' spiritual journey: From newspaperman to Episcopal deacon

 The sun illuminates clouds over St. George's Episcopal Church's steeple.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 3/31/2013

THE IMAGES don't seem to mesh--a cigar-chomping newspaper editor barking out orders to cub reporters and a clergyman meditating at the altar rail as golden light shines through stained-glass windows.

But, as usual, the stereotypes aren't very reliable. In my 48 years in the newspaper business, the last few as editor, I've never chewed on a cigar and I learned early on that "orders," barked or otherwise, don't go over too well in a newsroom full of independent souls.

Also, though prayer has enriched my life, particularly during the past four years leading up to my ordination as a deacon in the Episcopal Church, the image I have of a clergyman is someone who is out in the world, not bowed in a pew. When I think of "the church," I think more of a soup kitchen than a gilded sanctuary.

Once you debunk the stereotypes, you begin to see that my recent change of professions, from editor of The Free Lance-Star to chief of staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, is not the giant leap it might appear to be. In a way, I see my second career, at the age of 65, to be an almost inevitable second chapter to my half-century-long "internship" in journalism. Indeed, I think my two jobs have a lot in common.

For starters, though this may sound like I'm puffing myself up and though I normally shy from words that suggest pomposity, I believe that both jobs have been "callings" for me--positions that appealed to me because of the potential to serve something or someone bigger than yourself.

Second, though you might not agree, based on the amount of "bad news" you can find in most newspapers, I believe both careers are built on a foundation of optimism.

On this Easter Sunday, on a day of rebirth and renewal, I give thanks for the opportunity I have had to work for a newspaper whose owners consider it to be not just a business, but a public trust. I give thanks for the new opportunity to serve a church that strives to bring people together and that values diversity in all its forms.

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FROM NEWSPAPERMAN TO CLERGYMAN: PROCESS OF DISCOVERY

Ed Jones has recently retired as editor of The Free Lance-Star. He is chief of staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.