Remembering the Very Rev. Dr. Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral 

A message from Bishop Marc

“Loving God, Source of all mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on you, they may know the consolation of your love.”  -BCP page 489

The Very Reverend Alan Jones, PhD, Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral, died this past Sunday, peacefully and while watching the online webcast of the Sunday Eucharist at National Cathedral.

Alan was the dean of our cathedral for 24 years, and they were years of enormous creativity and of courage. Many examples come to mind of his transformative ministry, beginning with his fostering of the modern labyrinth movement at Grace by his support of the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress. Alan welcomed Lauren’s innovation, which led to an indoor and outdoor labyrinth there and in time around the world. The outdoor labyrinth outside my office at Diocesan House is a space used by people from early morning into dusk—I see people each day walking, dancing, skipping, sometimes walking very slowly the sinuous, continuous path of the labyrinth. There are many thousands of labyrinths registered worldwide, and it was Alan’s welcome to Lauren’s initiative that launched this global spiritual movement!

And with respect to courage, former Vice Dean Fran Tornquist was a central religious leader in San Francisco in providing compassionate care for all during the AIDS pandemic, which devastated the city before spreading over the world. Alan provided the leadership that supported Fran’s ministry that was crucial for the city.

Of course, Alan not only made it possible for creative, compassionate people like Lauren and Fran to flourish in their ministries, he was generative intellectually and spiritually, too. Alan’s preaching was famous for its warmth, depth, and humor. Many, many people have told me over the years how Alan’s welcoming, intelligent spirit in preaching opened the door for a renewed relationship with Christianity.

Through his writing Alan reached an even larger congregation than through his preaching. Some of his books, for instance, translated into Portuguese, are cherished within the Episcopal Church in Brazil.

Alan and my predecessor, the Right Reverend Bill Swing, partnered together with generous lay leaders like Mrs. Alfred Wilsey to completely transform Grace Cathedral, raising the money to replace the old gravel parking lot with beautiful and functional spaces, including the Great Steps, the Chapter House, and the cathedral’s indoor parking garage.

It was my privilege to be the bishop of this diocese and of the cathedral for the last three years of Alan’s active ministry. Alan and his wife, Cricket, warmly welcomed us to the cathedral, and it was a particular joy that we have been neighbors over these last eighteen years, sharing meals and visits together.

At this time of loss and grief, Sheila and I ask you to join us in praying for Cricket and for Alan’s children and grandchildren. May God in time wipe every tear away and give the comfort of the Holy Spirit to those who mourn.

+Marc Andrus


Note: A service is being planned at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. We will share more information once we receive it.

More information available from Grace Cathedral.


Ellie Simpson
Author: Ellie Simpson



  1. Gordon Hermanson

    I will absolutely miss Alan. The short conversations we would have after Sunday services were always very inspiring and wonderful. RIP Alan.

  2. Pam Schilling

    I am so sorry for your loss. May your memories help your heart heal.

  3. Dorothy Tsuruta

    Malcolm et al,
    So very very very very sad. During one of his last Sunday attendance at 11 am service, during coffee hour Alan Jones said to me, “You and I go back a long way” referring to the fact that i was at Grace when he interviewed. Cricket took a photo of us as he was speaking to me in a fun conversation. Decades ago I was present during Alan’s sermon (part of his interview) and I found him so spiritually comfortable within himself and truly academic, so when I would get back to him regarding something pertinent to Black people he said and needed to revisit, he was like “wow” so glad and welcoming of any feedback—once about Michael Jackson when Alan was critical of Michael Jackson’s dancing I referred him to an article in which Fred Astaire referred to the great dancing of Michael Jackson as his dancing heir. And Alan told me he was so glad to get that information and quote as it gave him another way to look at Michael Jackson;.
    And one other time i got back to Alan about a remiss when during a sermon he mentioned “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired’ but he failed to attribute that quote to Fannie Lou Hammer. Wow a very energetic Alan Jones told me he was so happy I brought that remiss to his attention as he was thinking it was one of those expressions that every one says as a general expression. Alan really really thanked me for bringing to his attention that he was quoting a Black woman, Fannie Lou Hammer. That’s what I mean about Alan Jones being an affable personality and diligent scholar.
    Dean Alan Jones also guided me through the death of my beloved dad and on a question of religious significance.
    Grief is natural for all of us (me for sure ) to be be experiencing –and as well it is natural to be reflecting on the joy of having a fun memory of this Dean who served the cathedral wholeheartedly when in office and still as a beloved figure in his retirement,
    My Prayers for his beloved Cricket and Children,
    Dorothy Tsuruta

  4. The Most Revd Dr Peter Carnley AC

    Today (20 January) we picked up the news through Facebook that Alan had died last Sunday, on 14 January . I am shattered and tearful right now. Alan was such a good friend to me. He came to Perth to help establish our Centre for Christian Spirituality, and then I participated in his Summers at General Program during the following summer, and he made sure I received an Honorary Doctorate at GTS at the same time. Perth is one of the places in the world where the labyrinth appears at a number of venues. We were of a common mind. I was privileged to come from Perth to SanFrancisco for a weekend (!) to preach at his installation as Dean of Grace Cathedral. So this is the passing of a close and dear friend. The pity is that we have not seen much of each other over these most recent years of retirement. The tyranny of distance!

  5. The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting

    The world is a poorer place without my friend and mentor Alan Jones. He and Canon Donald Allchin introduced me to spiritual direction at a clergy conference in the Diocese of Central Florida in the 1970s and I later received my STM in that discipline under him at General Seminary. I once shared a magical dinner with Alan and Cricket in San Francisco. I shall honor his memory by re-reading many of his writings.


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