David Jones (1793 – 1873)
Our History and the Christian Connection
David Jones converting a large section of their Sydney city store into a Club for servicemen and women!!
What? Is David Jones, the oldest department store in Australia and the oldest department store in the world, still trading under its original name, really going to open a club for servicemen and women in their city store??
Well yes. But this was back in 1939-40, at the outbreak of the Second World War and this was one of David Jones many philanthropic contributions to society.
His commitment to the wellbeing of his staff and society was born out of his desire to live his life in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. The golden rule to ‘treat others as you would want them to treat you’ was very real to him and his family. Jesus is recorded as teaching his followers to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.
David Jones’s desire to live according to this instruction was evidenced over and over throughout his lifetime. Listed below are some examples:
He was a deacon of the influential Pitt Street Congregational Church for some thirty-five years, where he and other godly deacons built classrooms within their church building to educate, feed and clothe impoverished children.
This was part of a five-year Enlargement Program and he personally contributed quite substantial amounts of money to this project. David Jones contribution of two thousand pounds seventeen shillings (approximately $2.2m in today’s money) was only exceeded by John Fairfax’s (Sydney Morning Herald) contribution of three thousand two hundred and eighty-five pounds (approximately $3.5m in today’s money) toward the Enlargement Program. (www.measuringworth.com).
As a deacon, David Jones played a significant role in the church that gave birth to a savings bank, a day school (already mentioned), an employment agency, an organised distribution centre for clothing and also provided support for the poor.
He was very generous as a benefactor to his own and other churches. He is recorded as being one of the two highest contributors to the various ministries and missionary endeavours of the Pitt Street Congregational Church. David Jones was one of the Sydney merchants of the day who gave 1,000 guineas to the Crimean War Victims’ Fund. (ref 2)
He also contributed toward the salary of Mr C. Tilley and Miss McAlpine who demonstrated and taught God’s love by teaching the Bible, visiting the sick and poor in the Sydney region and offering them help where they could, including food and clothing. Their role was to demonstrate the love of God in very practical ways. In one year alone, Mr Tilley made around 700 visits, 200 of which were to the very sick or dying. In addition, 3,500 pieces of Christian literature were distributed. (1870 Pitt Street Congregational Year Book p 19, 21,24,25)
This was an era when there was no social security or government welfare assistance. Any relief or support for those in need was looked after by benevolent societies, such as those at the Pitt St Congregational Church
Jones made contributions to other ministries within the church and included the Christian Instruction Society, the Ladies Bible and Domestic Mission, the Sunday School Fund as well as the Dorcas Society and the London Missionary Society. (p22)
It could be construed from the above that he ‘only gave out of his wealth’, however, nothing could be further from the truth. He and the other deacons and their wives were ‘hands on’ people. As a member and a deacon of the Pitt Street Congregational Church he was to abide by the rules which stated that every Sunday afternoon, each deacon would spend at least one hour in a designated area visiting the poor and the sick. (p18)
David Jones was a business man with a heart of compassion and concern for humanity. His understanding of the teachings of Jesus clearly influenced his life.
Written by Graham McDonald
The DIDUNO Network
- The Year Book of the Pitt St Congregational Church. 1870