Faith inspired giving

This story first appeared in the fall 2018 issue of the Arbor Light, the official magazine of Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Ron and Marvel Jones had a pretty good idea they were going to support Concordia University Ann Arbor before they ever visited campus. In their 59 years of marriage, the Jackson, Michigan, couple keeps two things at the center of their busy, abundant lives: their Lutheran faith and their Redeemer Lutheran Church community.

Faith-inspired givingWhen longtime friend and church member Rev. John Rathje, dean of students at CUAA, invited them to visit Concordia and witness a campus with a mission so closely tied to their own, they were eager to extend their blessings.

“We’ve received great joy in our relationship with John and his family,” says Marvel. “We’ve always supported John and his efforts to grow our ministry, so when he invited us to visit campus we knew he was going to show us something special.”

John and his wife, Kristin, had recently returned to Ann Arbor from St. Louis, Missouri. After mission planting in inner-city St. Louis for nearly 10 years, the Rathjes were excited to come back to their home state of Michigan and their alma mater. John accepted a call to be the dean of students at CUAA, where they both studied toward degrees in education. Among the first to welcome them home were Redeemer Lutheran Church friends Ron and Marvel Jones.

The Jones family is a Michigan State University family. Ron and Marvel met on that campus as undergraduates and married just before their senior year. Upon graduation, Ron entered the family business, Dawn Food Products, Inc., and became the company’s second-generation owner.

While Ron was growing the family business, Marvel focused on raising their three children, Carrie, Chris, and Connie, and serving at Redeemer. At that time, John, a trained counselor and teacher, was a called worker at Redeemer and had many opportunities to collaborate with Marvel. The two of them became particularly close when they started a Stephen Ministry program there and traveled together to their training.

When the Joneses’ youngest daughter, Connie, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 9, Marvel turned to her church family, including her friend and trained caring minister John for support.

Connie’s condition required daily care and monitoring, a responsibility Marvel was more than proud to undertake. As their roles as caretakers expanded, Ron and Marvel developed close bonds with the care providers, particularly nurses, who treated their daughter and supported the family.

Years later when they toured CUAA, they were most interested in learning about the School of Nursing. After meeting Dr. Cindy Fenske, dean of the School of Nursing, and learning how dedicated she is to the students and to Christ’s teachings, the Joneses knew exactly where to direct their support.

“Regardless of what they are studying, we value the ethics that are instilled at Concordia and are pleased to support them.” Adds Ron, “We’ve been blessed, and we pray to be a blessing to others.”

With the help of the Office of University Advancement, the Joneses established the Ronald L. and Marvel C. Jones Nursing Scholarship Endowment to provide financial support to students already enrolled in the nursing program.

The couple created a second endowment that will provide access to a CUAA education for students who could otherwise not attend the university. According to Marvel, “Regardless of what they are studying, we value the ethics that are instilled at Concordia and are pleased to support them.” Adds Ron, “We’ve been blessed, and we pray to be a blessing to others.”

Your giving makes a difference. Learn more about the ways you can financially support Concordia at

The fall Arbor Light hits mailboxes the week of October 1, 2018. View a .pdf of the Arbor Light magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 734-995-7317.

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