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Allen remembered for mentorship legacy

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–John H. Allen, who supervised the mentoring of hundreds of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students, died Aug. 18 after a lengthy bout with cancer. He was 77.

Allen was director of mentorships at the seminary from 1994-2007 and an adjunct professor of missions.

Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions and director of Southwestern’s Scarborough Institute for Church Planting & Growth, described the seminary’s mentorship program as “the fulfillment of a lifelong dream [of Allen] of equipping people for ministry. And I feel very happy and privileged that I had a part in helping him to fulfill this dream.”

Sanchez served alongside Allen on the staff of the North American Mission Board (then called the Home Mission Board) in the early 1970s. He recounted that many days he and Allen would stay at the office after work to discuss their dreams and ideas for ministry. Allen wanted to complete his doctor of ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary so that he could someday serve at a seminary to mentor students.

Allen completed his D.Min. in 1983 after having completed degrees at Wayland Baptist University (1955) and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (1960). For nearly 30 years, he served in Southern Baptist missions throughout the United States: He was an area missionary for South Dakota in the 1960s, an associate director of church extension with the mission board in the early 1970s and a state director of missions for the Alaska Baptist Convention from 1976-87. From 1987-93, he served as director of cooperative missions and stewardship in Colorado, after which he retired from NAMB.

Sanchez, recalling Allen’s aspirations from years before, invited him in 1994 to lead the mentoring program that Sanchez and former professor Ebbie Smith had just started. With a knack for organization and loyalty to both students and colleagues, Allen oversaw the mentorship of hundreds of students at the seminary and authored “Primer for New Mentors,” which was used as a text for the program at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus. Allen retired from this position in 1997 but continued to show interest in the program even as he battled with cancer.

The program, which places students alongside experienced ministers for on-the-job training, still holds an attraction to students. During the week prior to Allen’s death, Sanchez said, nearly 50 students made inquiries about the program.

Other Southwestern professors celebrated Allen’s life on hearing of his death. Michael Wilson, associate professor of pastoral ministry, first met Allen in 1978 while preaching a revival in Alaska, where Allen was the state director of missions. “Dr. Allen was a veteran ‘home missionary’ and as such he was a ‘trailblazer’ in the areas of church planting and associational and state missions development,” Wilson said.

“Dr. Allen and I shared a common commitment to mentoring and applied ministry,” Wilson continued. “John was an ‘old school’ practitioner who was strongly committed to academic excellence but understood that classroom theory must be applied in the local church. The Mentoring Program in Missions established by Dr. Allen is a ‘hands-on’ practical program that allows students to focus on real-world experience before they graduate. He will long be remembered by his students and colleagues.”

Allen is survived by his wife Anna and two children, Mary and Brian.

His funeral was scheduled for Thursday morning, Aug. 21, at Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Chapel in Colleyville, Texas.
Benjamin Hawkins is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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