MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Canon Jon Filkins serves community
In June of 2009, St. Barnabas Anglican Church received their new priest, who had just arrived from Dover, Penn. Father Jon Filkins was that new priest and he came to Picayune with a clear vision of what the word ministry actually meant. He was committed to living that definition and Picayune has benefitted from it since his arrival.
“I believe that ministry includes more than what is encompassed in the four walls of your church. Ministry extends into the community and the issues that impact it,” Filkins said.
Filkins said the church had some issues when he arrived, but they were able to grow through it; which is something for which he gives a lot of credit to his parishioners.
“That success was achieved with support from parishioners. It has gone on to allow me to extend my ministerial mission into the community which is something we all have benefitted from,” Filkins said.
In fact, in the short time Filkins has been in Picayune, he has gone on to become the Picayune Police Department Chaplain, Picayune Lions Club President, Plush for Police organizer, Chairman of Façade and Signage Advisory Committee for the city of Picayune, on the Board of Directors for Christian Care, Highland Community Hospital Chaplain Advisory Committee, received the designation of Canon from the Anglican Church and is a Picayune Item contributing columnist.
He devotes his time to service to the community he admits he is now entrenched in.
The most recent example of his involvement is the sign being constructed at the intersection of Goodyear Boulevard and Main Street.
Several months ago, he was asked by Picayune City Manager Jim Luke to chair the Façade and Signage Advisory Committee (FSAC) because of his extensive experience in Phoenix, Ariz. as Mayoral appointee and vice-chair of the Deer Valley Village Planning Committee encompassing an area with a population of 700,000 people.
“We were charged to make development recommendations to the Phoenix City Council,” Filkins said. “This membership occurred at a time of explosive growth in the area and included working on a $600,000,000 project with the S.C. Johnson Company.”
His first project on the FSAC was to design and acquire funding for a new sign at the entrance of Goodyear Boulevard and North Main Street. Filkins started with a $2,500 goal in November of last year. He has so far obtained almost $5,000 in contributions and the sign is scheduled to be installed April 1.
“Any funding above the project expenses will be applied to city beautification projects,” Filkins said.
When he was asked how he stays motivated to continuously contribute, Filkins said the efficacy of the effort is what he loves the most.
“That may be nebulously nondescript but it is true,” he said.
What does he see for himself in the near future?
“I can’t see me leaving Picayune,” Filkins said. “I can’t imagine leaving this community.”
When asked what his original thoughts were about leaving Dover to relocate to Picayune, he said, “I was asked by a physician before I left if I really wanted to come to Picayune. I looked him in the eyes and said absolutely.
“I’ve lived in the south before and I was ready to return to it. There were no questions.”
Now, with days that start early in the morning and end late in the evening, he said, I am happy to be here. There is a charm and an ease of pace to life in the south, I love this community and the people in it.”