Rev. Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
1502 N. New Jersey Street | Indianapolis IN
November 18, 1978 is a day that’s been since ingrained in my mind. Not that I was personally connected to the tragedy of this day, but I believe this had to be the first horrific, daily news breaking story of my life at that time as a young teen!
Brief bio: “James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American cult leader, preacher and self-professed faith healer who, with his inner circle, orchestrated a mass murder-suicide of himself and his followers in his jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978. He launched the Peoples Temple in Indiana during the 1950s.”
Always inquisitive by nature, it fascinated me how ‘this’ happens? How does one person have that much power of successfully manipulating hundreds of people? Where and how does it begin? I admit, I’m borderline obsessed with the story itself. I have seen so many films, documentaries, read articles and books about it. Still, I cannot wrap my head around it. But that’s a good thing, I’m happy to say!
Knowing that Jim Jones started his own congregation in 1955 at 1502 N. New Jersey St. in Indianapolis, IN., I was intrigued, (being just 2hrs away from Dayton OH) wondering if it was still there. While in Indiana, on a whim I decided to find it. I found that it was indeed still standing and appears to be an active congregation “Restoration Baptist Church”. Being there felt eerily peculiar yet so sad to me, knowing most if not all who began with him here, followed and met their demise with him also. Jones had moved to another church after this one, but it’s a vacant lot.
Upon a bit more research, I found out there was a branch of the Peoples Temple in Dayton OH under the leadership of Rev. E. A. Witt. I wonder what became of those parishioners? How long was it here? Did any Daytonians follow Jim Jones to California and ultimately Guyana?
Still so many questions….