Gilbert (“Budd”) Friend-Jones was called to his current position as Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Crystal Lake, Illinois in 2006. Prior to that, he served churches in Atlanta, Georgia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Reston, Virginia; and South Paris, Maine. He has spoken and conducted workshops in Great Britain, Ghana, India, and the former Soviet Union.
Friend-Jones is the author of two books and numerous articles. He has been a founding member of civic and religious organizations including FaithBridge, in the Chicago northwestern suburbs, the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, World Pilgrims, the Mayflower Theatre Project, and the New World Mime Theatre. He initiated a now-annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Service and the two-year Faith to Faith, Face to Face interfaith certification program for lay people. He has led interfaith pilgrimages to Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, and Turkey. As a consultant for Magical Steps Travel in Kuşadası, Turkey, he organizes and leads trips for specialized groups. He serves on the Board for the North American Interfaith Network.
A native of West Virginia, Friend-Jones earned his doctorate at Howard University Divinity School, his M. Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary and his B. S. at Frostburg State University. He and his wife Gretchen have two children and three granddaughters.