CIU Chancellor, Dr. Bill Jones, Honored with Key to the City
“Gracious Father, may it unlock new doors,” Pastor Andre Rogers prayed after Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin presented CIU Chancellor Dr. Bill Jones the Key to the City of Columbia.
Friends, family, and colleagues filled City Council Chambers Friday morning, July 14, 2017, to show their continued support and appreciation for a man many called a mentor, friend, teammate, and an inspiration.
New CIU President Dr. Mark A. Smith said, “This is a tremendous honor for Dr. Bill Jones to receive the Key to the City in a place where he’s served so aptly and exceptionally.”
“He’s been a game changer,” Pastor Rogers said. “He’s infused leadership, vision, church planting, and Bible study efforts among different people groups, really targeting the leadership of Columbia, and it filters down to each and every aspect of our city.”
Jones may be best known for leading CIU for ten years as president, but many are quick to point out his other important contributions to the community. Tobin Cassels, a member of CIU’s Board of Trustees, said, “We’ve thought of Bill Jones as the president of CIU, but he’s also been leading Bible studies for men in downtown Columbia for 16 years.”
Sheriff Leon Lott said, “Bill Jones is my mentor. He’s always been there for me.”
“Dr. Bill Jones is not only a dear friend, but he’s a spiritual mentor,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “Without his friendship, I don’t think I’d be the person I am.”
When Mayor Benjamin thanked Dr. Jones for his service, he referred to the prophet Isaiah, who trembled with fear before a holy and just God. He noted that when the Lord said, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah answered. “Here am I. Send me!” Dr. Jones has dedicated his life to following Isaiah’s example.
Michael Crapps, President and CEO of First Community Bank, said, “If (Dr. Jones) has a motive, it’s to serve God and bring glory to God by serving men.”
The loving smile of his wife Debby, the affectionate hugs of his granddaughter Aubrey, and the warm handshakes of each man and woman in attendance attested to these sentiments. In the words of Solon Flowers, Southeast LS District Manager for Starbucks, “He’s one the most genuine men I’ve ever known. You realize after forming a relationship with Dr. Jones, that it’s truly who he is every day.”
While words of appreciation poured out for Dr. Jones, he had plenty of his own to give. “This morning I was reading in I Thessalonians 5: 11, and the verse jumped off the page. ‘Encourage one another and build up one another just as you also are doing.’ I want to thank each and every one of you for encouraging me and building me up, for which I’m very grateful. And Mr. Mayor, this [Key to the City] is icing on the cake.”