Rev. Benjamin Cone, Jr.
The Voice Of Thunder
Rev. Benjamin Cone, Jr. was born and raised in Waycross, GA to Benjamin Cone, Sr. and Arline Jones Cone. Even as a young boy, he had a thunderous voice and was very outgoing. He was always friendly, and it appeared he never met a stranger. His personality, even at an early age was demonstrative of a man who loved to entertain and be in the midst of people at all times.
He graduated from Center High School in Waycross, GA in 1957, and from 1961 to 1966 served as butler for citrus tycoons, John and Mae Snively, on the property now known as Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL. While serving the Snively family, the voice of God spoke to during a walk alongside Lake Eleanor. While he did not acknowledge this calling, his footsteps were ordered and he moved to Tampa where he began working at a steel mill and was introduced to the Adventist Message by a blind preacher. This God guided connection would prove to be the catalyst that formed the man we came to know. Benjamin promised God that he would serve Him as diligently as he’d served the devil. And in 1967, he was baptized by Elder F.S. Keitts in Ocala, FL and joined the Lakeland Memorial Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
In 1968, Benjamin became a full-time Literature Evangelist, canvassing neighborhoods door to door as well as churches in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. In 1969, God gave Benjamin a second father, Mr. George Sanders. This godly relationship would prove to be a conduit to help build the Kingdom of God. In 1972, Benjamin was called to Natchez, MS to work for 8 weeks in the Natchez Crusade. After the Crusade, he was asked to become the Publishing Director for the South-Central Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist for the State of Mississippi. He accepted the call to move to Jackson, MS and fell in love with the ministry and never left. After over 15 years of marriage, God blessed he and his wife Louise with two children, Benjamin “Benji” Cone III and Audrey Lorraine.
In 1972, Benjamin became the Founder and President of Good Samaritan Ministries. He was the head of the Publishing Department for the State of Mississippi from 1973-1998 and ordained in 1979 by the South Central Conference of Seven-Day Adventist. In 1979 he founded the Citizens Rally Against Crime Program.
When Frank Williams founded the award-winning Mississippi Mass Choir in 1988, he asked Rev. Cone to become a founding member, serving in the role of Spiritual Adviser. Rev. Cone would accept the invite only if Frank agreed to close out each of the choir’s performances a Call to Christian Discipleship. Frank agreed, and the choir could truly live out their motto – “Serving God Through Song.” He has accompanied the choir to over 40 states within the United States and to stages and pulpit around the world – including Spain, Japan, Italy, South Africa, and the Bahamas. As the first Gospel group to perform at the iconic Acropolis in Athens, Greece, Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr. insisted that a Call to Christian Discipleship take place there.
Although he was known for his thunderous voice and the iconic sermonette “The Birds,” it was the sermonette “It was Worth It All” from their recording – “Not By Might” – that sums up who and what he was.
This art imitating life story took place in the Mississippi Baptist Hospital Medical Center, where Rev. Cone was recovering from prostate cancer surgery. While having his vitals checked by the overnight nurse, he noticed that she seemed troubled. After talking to her for a while and gaining her confidence, he discovered that she did not have a relationship with the Lord. It was there in the hospital recovery room, that he would lead her to the Lord, and prompt him to say, “It was worth my getting prostate cancer, that the nurse might get the Lord – “It Was Worth It All.”
Rev. Cone was an artist in his own rights, having released 6 CD’s with Malaco Records. His uniqueness was to simply translate God’s Good News into a thunder-voiced language that impacted the hearts and minds of those blessed to hear him.
According to Malaco’s President – Tommy Couch Jr. – “He was a deeply religious man who always found God’s blessings in every situation. Upon hearing of the tornado destroying Malaco facilities, Rev. Cone commented, “No one was hurt, and you had good insurance… the Lord wanted Malaco to have a new building.” Rev. Cone was present to bless the new offices at Malaco before its re-opening. Malaco and its family of artist officially and affectionately regarded him alike as the “Malaco Pastor.”
His legacy with Mississippi Mass Choir continues, with his son Benjamin Benji” Cone III, now one of its principal singers and songwriters, and his grandson Christian its drummer.