John Allen remembered for legacy in mentorship
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – John H. Allen, a long-time professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, passed away at the age of 77 after a lengthy bout with cancer, Aug. 18. Allen played an essential part in developing a mentorship program at the seminary while serving as an adjunct professor of missions and the director of mentorships from 1994 to 2007.
“I think that this (mentorship program) was the fulfillment of a life-long dream of equipping people for ministry,” Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions and director of Southwestern’s Scarborough Institute, said. “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 North American Mission Board (NAMB), then called the Home Mission Board, in the early 1970s. He recounted many days that, after work, he and Allen would stay at the office to discuss their dreams and ideas for ministry. Allen expressed the desire to complete his Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary so that he could some day 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 missions throughout the United States: He was an area missionary for South Dakota in the 1960s, an associate director of church extension with NAMB 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. Throughout his ministry, he also served in pastoral positions across the United States.
Sanchez, recalling Allen’s aspirations from years before, invited him in 1994 to take lead in a mentoring program that he and former professor Ebbie Smith had started shortly before that time. According to Sanchez, the results of Allen’s service were “outstanding.” With a knack for organization and loyalty to both students and colleagues, he oversaw the mentorship of hundreds of students at the seminary. He also authored a Primer for New Mentors, which was used as a text for the program. Allen retired from this position in 2007, but he continued to display 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 passing, Sanchez said, nearly 50 students made inquiries about the program.
Other Southwestern professors celebrated Allen’s life on hearing of his passing. “We have lost a champion,” said David Mills, assistant dean of applied ministry in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
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,” he 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 walked alongside his wife, Anna, since their marriage on June 17, 1949. They have two children, Mary and Brian.