photo of Rev. Jim MacDonell at his drawing board.

Rockville Pastor’s Cartoons Draw Community Together

photo of Rev. Jim MacDonell at his drawing board.

Rev. Jim MacDonell at his drawing board.
Photo | Ingleside at King Farm

He began his career as an artist. Rev. Jim Macdonell later employed his art as a pastor, a civil rights activist and the head of a non-profit. After retiring several years ago, he still is sketching out the best of humankind on his cartoon pad. Now, the retirement community where he lives is releasing his body of work as a book later this month.

Rev. Macdonell is 81, and his latest project is doing a weekly caricature of his fellow community residents and staff at Ingleside at King Farm, the continuing care retirement community in Rockville’s neighborhood of King Farm. To date, he has sketched 88 drawings for the community’s Ingleside Insider newsletter.

“In the book, Ingleside Personalities, each caricature is accompanied by a short biography of the person featured. Everyone here at IKF has a story, our community is full of extraordinarily interesting people. Ingleside has residents who worked everywhere from the State Department to the World Bank,” said Rev. Macdonell.

Throughout his career has always been the use of cartoons. In 1960, Macdonell founded St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville where he served as pastor for 38 years. He says the support of his congregation enabled him to do important work in the civil rights movement. He marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama and ran a voting rights program for unregistered black voters in Canton, Mississippi. In the late 1960s, he drew a civil rights editorial cartoon which was published in the Washington Post. He later organized and served 30 years as a President of the Equal Rights Center, a civil rights non-profit based in Washington, DC.

photo of Civil Rights Cartoon by Rev. Dr. James Macdonell

Civil Rights Cartoon by Rev. Dr. James Macdonell
Photo | Ingleside at King Farm

The civil rights cartoon, along with cartoon posters of entertainers who have performed at Ingleside, Ed Walker and Willard Scott, “The Joy Boys of Washington,” Mark Russell, and Daryl Davis, are included in the new book published by Ingleside at King Farm.

Macdonell’s colorful and creative past life includes chairing a Presbyterian Church USA denominational committee supporting Irish Peace efforts in Northern Ireland, for more than 10 years, and he made more than a dozen trips to that country to help to stem the country’s sectarian violence and promote permanent peace and reconciliation.

Executive Director of Ingleside at King Farm, Marilyn Leist, says Macdonell’s cartoons and caricatures have brought the community closer together. “His cartoons are helping us get to know each other better,” she said.


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