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Funerals set for two influential Hillsborough church leaders

Funeral services will be held Friday for the Rev. Arthur T. Jones, left, and the Rev. Thomas Stokes, influential leaders of two churches.

Times files

Funeral services will be held Friday for the Rev. Arthur T. Jones, left, and the Rev. Thomas Stokes, influential leaders of two churches.

TAMPA — Funeral services will be held Friday for influential leaders of two churches — one who founded the Bible-Based Fellowship Church and one credited with saving the historic Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

The Rev. Arthur T. Jones died Saturday at age 65 from complications of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

The East Tampa native had graduated from Middleton High School and United Theological Seminary and received training at Harvard and Oxford universities. He worked as a marketing executive until retiring from the IBM Corp. in 1992 to found Bible-Based Fellowship Church.

He and a friend bought 6 acres off Ehrlich Road where they built the church. What started as a Bible study out of his North Tampa home grew into a church with more than 5,000 members, with five congregations and two schools in Africa.

The Rev. Jones grew up singing in choirs and going to church. He recorded his first gospel album in 1974 with the Florida Mass Choir. The group would go on to record 13 more albums, compact discs and videos.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Bible-Based Fellowship Church, 4903 Ehrlich Road. Burial will follow in Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Wilson Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

The Rev. Thomas Stokes died April 22 at the age of 75 of an apparent heart attack in his native Dublin, Ireland.

The Rev. Stokes arrived at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1986, after the diocese invited the Society of Mary to take over the parish. The Ybor City church, now the second-oldest in Tampa, was founded in 1890.

He used his fluency in several languages — holding Masses in Spanish, French and English — to connect with diverse parishioners and hold together a historic Catholic church through financial problems that nearly closed it.

The Rev. Stokes was born in Dublin in 1937. He became a Marist priest in Dublin and went on to study theology in Lyon, France.

A funeral Mass will be said at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the church, 1711 E 11th Ave., by Bishop Robert Lynch.

Funerals set for two influential Hillsborough church leaders 05/10/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 12:58pm]
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