Longtime community leader and A.M.E. Zion Church Elder, Rev. Janet Jones, will helm the Board of Directors of Project Hospitality - Staten Island, NY’s oldest and largest social safety net
November 10, 2021
Staten Island, NY – Rev. Janet H. Jones, an ordained an Elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church and a cutting-edge liberation theologian, was sworn in October 20th as the first African American Chair of the Board of Directors of Project Hospitality, Staten Island’s oldest and largest social safety net. The impoverished communities Project Hospitality serves are overwhelming communities of color on the borough’s North Shore.
For nearly two decades, Pastor Jones has been a community pillar on Staten Island, a borough of New York City with nearly 500,000 residents. For 16 years, she led the Rossville A.M.E. Zion Church in the historic community of Sandy Ground, on the South Shore of Staten Island. She is now the pastor of the historic Shrewsbury Avenue AME Zion Church in Red Bank, NJ. She was ordained an Elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church in 2005.
She earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Drew Theological School in 2003, where she served as president of the Black Ministerial Caucus. She served a long tenure on the Staten Island Council of Churches leadership.
Pastor Jones’s decade-long relationship with Project Hospitality speaks to her abiding faith. A member of the Board of Directors since 2011, she has served as Chair of Human Resources since 2014 and Board First Vice Chair since 2018.
Project Hospitality started in 1982 as a volunteer interfaith effort to provide food and shelter to the homeless camped out in the Ferry Terminal. The agency has since grown into an invaluable source of support for Staten Islanders experiencing many forms of challenge.
Every year, more than 40,000 individuals and families are offered vital support from Project Hospitality, through a continuum of compassionate care that starts with street outreach, shelter, and emergency nutrition, and extends to include clinical, mental-health and substance-use services, transitional and permanent supportive housing, legal assistance, youth programs, geriatric care, domestic violence interventions and more.
In 2020, Project Hospitality served four million meals to the hungry, many of whom had lost work due to COVID-19. The agency of 400 staff members and its network of hundreds of volunteers provided tens of thousands of vaccines and COVID tests during the peak of the pandemic and continues its COVID relief today.
Pastor Jones’s devotion to the most disenfranchised communities has wide-reaching impact, even beyond her contributions to the life-saving work of Project Hospitality: She is a key leader in the Staten Island Housing Dignity Coalition of Staten Island, and has long advocated for housing for impoverished people, many of whom have full-time jobs but are at risk of homelessness due to insufficient income. Her grassroots organizing work led to the commitment of very low-income housing to be built in a recently announced 350-unit high rise building. She repeatedly testified to the need for very low-income affordable housing in several public meetings and City Council hearings.
She has traveled internationally to share her clear-eyed expertise on compassionate, and community-building leadership. She has lent her unique voice and faith-driven perspective to conferences in West Africa, China, South America, and the Caribbean.
She taught for many years at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility with the Rising Hope Program, which provided inmates the opportunity to earn a Certificate of Ministry, the equivalent of one year of college credit. She is active in ecumenical and interfaith work both on and off Staten Island.
Pastor Jones has preached and lectured at retreats, workshops on discipleship and leadership, at the local and state levels in ecumenical gatherings and at the district, conference, and international levels of the AME Zion Church. Pastor Jones served as Administrative Dean of the AME Zion Preachers’ Institute and continues to serve as an Instructor of Worship and Liberation Theology.
Pastor Jones is the recipient of numerous awards from organizations across the tri-state area in recognition of her outstanding contributions. In 2015, Project Hospitality honored her for her work to promote social justice with the Rev. Roland Ratmeyer Founders Award. In 2019, she received the Msgr James Dorney Memorial Award for Outstanding Ecumenical Leadership and Service from the Staten Island Council of Churches. Rev. Jones was the first Protestant clergyperson to receive that prestigious award, the borough’s highest ecumenical honor. Also that year, Rev. Jones has also received the William Morris Award for Housing from the NAACP – Staten Island Branch. She received the Interfaith Leadership Award from the Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island in 2018.
She is the mother of Morgana Jones Dennis of Atlanta, Georgia and Eric Jones of Neptune, NJ. She has five grandchildren.