Spotlight on Reverend Rose Jones-Wilson

rev-rose-jones-wilsonReverend Rose Jones-Wilson has the kind of voice that makes you want to listen; strong, clear, and full. She is a petite woman, but when she speaks she seems taller, poised and articulate. “Reverend Rose,” as she is affectionately known by the congregation, is not only the Pastor of Prime Time Ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church, but she’s also a participant in NYWC’s long running workshop there.

Reverend Rose grew up in the country in Virginia, but has been in Brooklyn ever since graduating from high school. Widowed in 1974, she went back to school as a single mother, working during the day and going to school at night. Seven and a half years later, she graduated with a degree in Management from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. Although she had been a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church since 1975, it wasn’t until after a thirty-four year career working for the City of New York in the Corporate Counsels Office, when nearing retirement, she went to NY Theology Seminary to earn a Masters in Divinity in 2000.

That same year she helped to launch Prime Time Ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church, a ministry for, by, and with the fifty and up community. The Ministry’s goal is to enhance the well being of its members, which it does through monthly fellowships, devotionals, and trips, among other programs. There are over 200 people on their roster, with about 80 active members. NYWC began its first workshop at Prime Time in 2003. Since then NYWC has published three chapbooks and now leads two workshops weekly, serving over 25 Prime Time participants annually.

When I visited the workshop one snowy February morning, I was received graciously by a group of half a dozen women in the church’s parlor, a spacious and elegant room complete with detailed molding, and enormous fireplace and a piano. Reverend Rose opened the workshop with a prayer before NYWC leader Shaina Feinberg started with a writing prompt. I was struck not only by the writing I heard that morning, but by the quality of the listening that took place, and the respect the women gave to each other and their writing.

Reverend Rose has been writing creatively since the NYWC workshop began, nearly six years ago, and she describes the experience as “rejuvenating.” Her writing has appeared in three editions of NYWC’s Prime Time Writers, and she has read her work at NYWC readings at the church. She compares writing to a tree she used to go to as a child in Virginia, a quiet place where ideas flourish. “When I grew up we used our imagination…,” she explained, “<and when writing> you create again as you did when you were a child.”


By Reverend Rose Jones-Wilson

There has never been a better man than my Daddy Fred!  Actually, Daddy Fred was my step-father, and I did not call him Daddy for many years.  My own father, Cleveland, died when I was two and my sister not quite four, leaving Mama widowed with us during the last years of the Depression at the age of 22.

Mama remarried the next year.  She had two children by her second husband.  I thought my step-father must certainly love his natural children more than me because they were his own.  All I cared about at the time was that my father had died and left me, and I was hurt.  Wanting a father of my own, I began calling my mother’s brother “Daddy Cye.”  This “Daddy Cye” business went on for several years, until the day he stopped protecting me from Mama for misbehaving; and after she whipped me with her cherry-tree switch, “Daddy Cye” went back to being “Uncle Cye” again.  And my step-father started to become my Daddy.

Growing up, I often thought of Daddy Fred as a comic strip character, like Dagwood Bumstead from Blondie, who could be funny without necessarily trying.  Whenever Daddy took on a project it always seemed to end in some sort of disaster.  Once when Mama and I were going shopping in nearby Richmond Daddy said before we left, “I think I’ll burn some trash on the yard while you’re gone.”  Mama begged, “Please don’t do that Fred!  The wind is rather high and the fire might get away.”  This is when Daddy came back with his regular quip whenever Mama warned him so.  “Bea,” he said, “I know what I’m doing.”

Later in the day, when Mama and I stepped off the bus from Richmond, the whole straw field of our neighbor was on fire!  Since there was no fire department in our little town, men were in a line passing water buckets from one to another to try and put it out.  Others were digging ditches to keep the fire from jumping.  “Oh, Fred,” my mother uttered.

Thankfully the fire was contained, and it was past harvest time so the field was left waiting for next year’s planting.  Talking to Mama afterwards, one neighbor pleaded, “My Lamb, Birt – please don’t leave Fred home alone, take him with you!”

Looking back now, I laugh at these things.  But what I remember most is what a good father Daddy Fred was, and how he took care of all his children.  When Mama died he said to me, “I don’t suppose you’ll be coming home to visit like you used to.”  I said, “Why do you say that Daddy?  I love you.”  When he told me then – how long he had waited to hear those words – I realized how especially kind he had been by tolerating all my “Daddy Drama” without mumbling a word.  So that’s why I say, “What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man was my Daddy Fred.”