Archie Ijames, Associate of Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple
On October 8, 1973, the board of directors of the California-based Peoples Temple passed a resolution establishing a “Branch Church and Agricultural Mission” in Guyana. The settlement would come to be known as Jonestown, and church assistant pastor Archie Ijames was one of six authorized to help establish the mission.
Born in Davie County in 1913, Ijames first met Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones at an event in Indianapolis. Originally skeptical about joining Jones’s church, Ijames was persuaded by Jones’s humility and honesty, and by the Peoples Temple’s commitment to transcended racial divides. Ijames’s family was embraced by Jones’s church, and Ijames eventually rose to become Jones’s associate pastor.
After first staying behind to tend the Indianapolis Peoples Temple congregation, Ijames eventually followed to Jones to California.
Ijames accompanied Jones on a December 1973 scouting trip to Guyana, and after faking a health scare, Jones convinced Ijames to stay in Guyana and make all the final arrangements for the Temple’s new mission. Soon after Jones’ arrival back in the U.S., tensions began to rise between Jones and Ijames, primarily because Jones was driving a wedge between Ijames and his family.
After reuniting with his wife, Ijames and she left Guyana attempting to take $45,000 of the Temple’s money with them. They ultimately gave back the money and returned to the United States.
Despite the difficulties and the fact that Jones had at one point ordered a hit on Ijames, Ijames stayed committed to the Peoples Temple and its principles of integration and communalism. He remained with group at its San Francisco location, and ultimately received much media attention there after tragic mass suicide in March 1978.
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