St. Matthew's Episcopal

Fr. John Jobson

Posted on: November 6th, 2011 by Robin Jarrell

From Jim Edwards:

John Xavier Jobson grew up in Newcastle, Australia where his dad was a manager at the Broken Hill Propriety (a steel mill).  He was the oldest of three.  Coline was next in line and then his younger brother, Peter, who committed suicide years ago when John was still Rector at Grace Church.  John went to public school in Australia and worked briefly out of high school as a metallurgist for the BHP.  Got religion when he sang in the Cathedral choir in Newcastle as a schoolboy.  He attended St. John’s, Morpeth for seminary training (which one can do in Australia before University).  Then on to the University of Brisbane to study history.  He worked as a curate at two churches in Newcastle and then applied for a scholarship to study abroad at General.  He did his STB and STM there and then began work on his ThD in Eighteenth Century Church History concentrating on the Enthusiasts (John Wesley and Co.).   He finished his course work for the ThD and was working on his dissertation when he took a part time curacy at St. John’s, Lattingtown on Long Island.  He decided at that time that he enjoyed parish ministry in the US and that teaching jobs in Church History were scarce so he applied to stay in the US which was a rather difficult process.  Finally was granted a green card  and eventually became a naturalized citizen.

John took the job at Grace Episcopal Church in Massapequa, NY when no one else would take it.  They had a huge outstanding mortgage and they were also not exactly excited about hiring an unmarried priest.  But he was the best they could get under the circumstances and it turned out to be a very happy and productive relationship.  During his tenure they eventually paid off their mortgage, built up a substantial reserve and improved the parochial/day school associated with the parish which consisted of grades K-8th.  They never had difficulty with enrollment as they began teaching foreign languages in 4th grade and were way ahead of the public schools in introducing computer labs.

John also became professor of Church History at the George Mercer Jr. School of Theology (Diocese of Long Island diocesan seminary) where he taught for 23 years.  He served on many diocesan commissions and was eventually elected an honorary canon of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in recognition of his service and abilities.

John was asked to run for election as Bishop of Long Island, but he turned it down as he thought being a bishop was too much an administrative ministry that he had no interest in.  He was much more concerned about people’s spiritual lives and felt extremely privileged to be admitted to their lives in such intimate ways.

He loved traveling and every few years we’d be off for the month of his vacation touring a different country.  These tours were always wonderful learning experiences as John would have researched everything he could about the planned destination beforehand and traveling with him was like having one’s own personal tour guide.

When he retired he loved life in Central Pennsylvania.  There had been long discussions about where we would live in retirement and CPA won out over my first choice of Vermont.  Vermont was too cold for John.   He loved living in a small town.  He’d always lived in large, sprawling urban and suburban areas and thought the idea of being able to get to know the clerks at the grocery store, the tellers at the bank, neighbors was just great and they tended to find him fascinating in return.  Just a few months before he was diagnosed with lung cancer we were leaving home on Tuesday morning on our way to Bible Buds (the Susquehanna Convocation Clericus Bible study) and he said “You know, I really love our life here.”  He seemed to like the people he met in parishes here as he did supply work and found them very genuine and caring.

From Mother Robin:

I met John a little more than ten years ago, and shortly thereafter Jim.  Obviously, I was enchanted by them both – and I will always be grateful to Jim for allowing me the opportunity to get to know John.  I remember one time we were having dinner and the wine was flowing and  I started singing this wonderful old (but by now obscure) song by the British musical team of Flanders and Swann I’d learned when I was a kid (my own mother being an anglophile has since stuck with me) only to be joined by John with gusto!  I don’t know who was more surprised that we each knew the lyrics – him or me.  And I remember Jim just sort of shaking his head and saying, “You two are like peas in a pod!”

It was John who introduced me to all things eighteenth century (mostly literary, but not all) and I’ve been delighted ever since.  We both shared a passion for Biblical scholarship and I was fortunate to have him mentor me when we both taught at the Diocesan School of Christian Studies.

I could go on.  And on.  And on.  I am blessed to have known John as I continue to be blessed to know Jim.  My life has been immeasurably enriched by my time with them.

After John’s death, the “Bible Buds” who had been such an integral part of John and Jim’s life contributed $1,500 to The Point Foundation – an organization that provides financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  You can visit their website by clicking on the link below.

The gift of a blue stole for Advent given to the glory of God and in honor of John is just a small token of my deep appreciation for his life and ministry.

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