WINDERMERE – As a young teen, becoming a pastor was not exactly on Andy Jones’ to-do list, despite his mother’s predictions that he’d one day find his way into ministry.
The thought of becoming a police officer, however, always held a certain allure for the young Jones. But in the end, Jones, now 57, proved that mothers are always right.
In addition to his new role as the Windermere Police Department chaplain, Jones, who resides in Clermont, serves as a volunteer pastor at the southwest campus of Discovery Church in Winter Garden.
He has been an ordained minister since 2005 and holds 27 years of pastoral experience and even more years of doing what he loves best: lending a listening ear and serving others.
FROM BARTENDER TO PASTOR
Growing up as a Southern Baptist, Jones always had a deep faith in God. But shortly after high school, Jones said he walked away from religion.
“My heart was made to serve people. I love serving people. I’ve probably been that way since I was a kid. I love talking to people. ... Even as a bartender, one of my favorite things was to talk to people about their issues.”
– Pastor Andy Jones
But after recommitting his life to Christ, he and his wife, Carolann, started attending Discovery Church’s Winter Garden campus, where he quickly found his way into a leadership role. The first role he took on was as the head of security, all while he was still working as a bartender for a beer company.
“I had many people tell me you couldn’t be a Christian and work in the secular world — especially with bartending — but the stories that I can tell you about me sharing Christ in the places I went to would absolutely blow your mind,” Jones said.
Jones, who sometimes would show up to church driving a beer truck, shrugged off the negative opinions because bartending allowed him to fulfill one of his strongest desires: serving others.
“My heart was made to serve people,” Jones said. “I love serving people. I’ve probably been that way since I was a kid. I love talking to people. ... Even as a bartender, one of my favorite things was to talk to people about their issues. They’d find solace in letting me help them, and I’d find solace in listening to them.”
Soon, Jones stopped serving drinks and started serving Christ. Now, he hopes to continue serving Christ by way of providing moral and spiritual support to Windermere’s law-enforcement community.
CHECKING OFF THE BOXES
Jones has long held aspirations to become a police officer. In fact, it was that desire that led him to meet Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden who, at the time, was working for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s one of the reasons I got involved, because I was talking to Dave Ogden back when I was in my 20s, and I actually wanted to apply for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, but my mom talked me out of it,” Jones said. “Right about the time I realized it was definitely what I wanted to do, I got married and started a family. ... And it became the furthest thing from what I would be able to do because of the income I needed to make.”
Because Jones feared the salary of a police officer would be insufficient to support his growing family, he considered other occupations and worked in several other industries.
Eventually, Jones finally applied to OCSO to become a reserve officer, hoping to fulfill his dream. But his dream got complicated when the OCSO informed him they would not be doing another police academy because of a lack of qualified applicants.
The news meant Jones would need to wait another year. With that year of waiting and the year required for the academy, Jones was concerned he’d be about 60 years old by the time he finally graduated from the police academy.
He voiced his worries to long-time friend Ogden, and that’s when Ogden asked him what he thought of becoming the chaplain for the Windermere Police Department. Following that conversation, Jones went home to talk about it with his wife. After much prayer, he concluded the opportunity was likely something God would want him to seize.
“I was not seeking this position at all,” Jones said. “But it checked off so many boxes. I feel honored to be given this opportunity.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]