Here there and everywhere -- the life of a Baptist minister

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley
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Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen and his late wife June (Sanford).

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen leads a singsong with Jim Bent at the Order of Good Cheer in Nictaux on Wednesday, March 20.

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen at home, the day before his 100th birthday.

Published on March 26, 2013

 “The Lord has been awful good to me all through my 100 years.” Dr. George Allen.

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen won’t let you leave his apartment without some candy. “Take one for Idella too.”

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen picks up a pile of birthday cards the day before his birthday.

Published on March 26, 2013

The Order of Good Cheer held a special meeting to honour Dr. George Allen’s hundredth birthday. “You seldom miss a meeting and you never miss a beat,” said Governor Wayne MacDonald

Published on March 26, 2013

MP Greg Kerr attended the Order of Good Cheer party and conferred congratulations from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Published on March 26, 2013

George and June

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen was piped in as a special guest for the Order of Good Cheer meeting in Nictaux on March 20.

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen sat beside his son David and across from Greg Kerr, MP for West Nova at the Order of Good Cheer.

Published on March 26, 2013

One of three birthday cakes for Dr. George Allen last week - the Baptist Church in Bridgetown had one, this one from the Order of Good Cheer and there was another at the party at Crosskill Court.

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen, left, leads a singsong with Jim Bent.

Published on March 26, 2013

The members of the Order of Good Cheer often ask Dr. George Allen to maximize the stories and minimize the singing.

Published on March 26, 2013

Dr. George Allen

Published on March 26, 2013

The governor of the Order of Good Cheer, Wayne MacDonald, presents Dr. George Allen with a 100th birthday card.

Dr. George Allen turns 100

Dr. George Allen never set out to be 100.

“It just kind of crept up on me,” he says. “I wasn’t aware of it at all. But I don’t want to die. They’ll cut off my old age pension.”

[RELATED: Advice from a centenarian on ageing (video)]

The jokes never stop when you’re with the semi-retired Baptist minister.

“Laughter is the best medicine,” he says. “And it’s cheaper. I’ve got a pill over there costs $123. I don’t know if it does any good. I just take it to humour the doctor.

“A man asked me once how come I always look so good. I’m always neat, always have a tie on. I told him Brill Cream, Barbasol and Dr. Buckley’s.”

Dr. Allen moved into Crosskill Court, a seniors home in Bridgetown, two years ago.

“This is assisted living, partial care down here,” he says. “Upstairs they get complete care. I might need that when I’m 120.”

The supposedly retired minister still leads church services for the people in his home and still leads them in sing songs.

“It’s nice to cheer them up, anyway you can,” he says. “Music is the language of the soul. It’s powerful stuff. We sing the old songs and the hymns of the church.”

He’s quick to point out though that he likes all kinds of music.

“Even country,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. “I tell everybody it’s not as bad as it sounds.”

Laughter and music are two big pillars of Dr. Allen’s ministry. The main pillar, he says, is love.

“My son David said it best,” he recalls, a tear coming to his eye. “Last year at my ninety-ninth birthday party.

“He said, ‘The secret of my Dad’s success can be summed up in a word: Love.

“‘Dad loved everybody. Love just oozes out of him.’”

“And I do,” says Dr. Allen. “I love the people. Because Christ first loved me. Love Christ with all your heart and your neighbour. That’s the secret to Christ’s kind of religion. The greatest of all commandments.”

Dr. Allen delivered that message to a lot of people and a lot of congregations in his 72-year career.

He says he felt called to the ministry his whole life. He was born and grew up in North Sydney. He asked for “believer’s baptism” when he was 10.

He studied theology at Acadia University. Even then he was preaching “here and there and everywhere—Black River, Greenfield, the Tabernacle in Wolfville.”

During his time at Acadia he made his first trip to Clementsvale to work with youth. There he met June.

They were married in the fall of 1940 in Clementsvale, when she had finished her studies.

He had already started earlier that year in his first official posting—Mahone Bay.

He served six churches there–Mahone Bay, North West, Indian Point, Upper Cornwall, New Cornwall and Hermans Island.

Sitting in the front pew in Mahone Bay was a retired dean of Theology from Acadia, Dr. Simeon Spidle, taking notes on Dr. Allen’s sermons.

He visited Dr. Allen on Mondays to discuss the sermon.

“Talk about pressure,” says Dr. Allen. “I learned a lot from him; he had a very logical mind. Taught me about preaching logically so people could understand it.”

 

Dr. Allen never read his sermons from notes.

“I couldn’t read my own writing,” he says. “You’re freer. You stand there and look at the people, look them right in the eye. Make sure they’re not sleeping.”

He says it takes harder studying before hand.

“You have to think lots about it. Build it up logically, three points – you’ll lose them if you travel all over everywhere.

“My sermon changes when I get up there though. You might have written one thing down, but the Lord gives me different things to say than I started with. He puts words in your mouth, you never thought you were going to say.”

After six years in Mahone Bay he went back to school and then on to Upper Canard and then Truro where they stayed for 16 years.

In Truro they had to build a new church to fit everyone in.

“They were sitting on the steps out into the alley way,” he says. “The new one seated 400. Time was when women wore hats and it was like looking out on a flower garden, a sea of flowers.”

Next he served in Dartmouth on Stevens Road and then Bridgetown where he served for 15 years.

He says he often gets asked how he managed to stay so long in places.

“When I wanted to leave, I stayed and when the congregation wanted me to leave, I still stayed.”

Then seriously he says ministers used to visit more than they do today.

“I was a real pastoral minister – I visited every home three or four times a year,” he says. “They used to say a home-going minister makes a church-going congregation. I wish I had a 100 more years to do it all again.”

He finally retired in 1984, when he was 72, when his mother-in-law fell ill. They moving home to Clementsvale for her last days but she died before they got there.

Still he and June lived in Clementsvale together for 25 years until her death almost two years ago.

“I miss her awful bad,” he says. “Seventy years together. Everything you do you think of her.

“I couldn’t have done what I have done without her. She was a wonderful helper, partner, wife. She worked as hard as I did.”

Dr. Allen continued preaching even in his retirement. He supplied in Clementsvale, Digby, Digby Neck – here there and everywhere, same as when he started.

People came from all across the province last week to celebrate Dr. Allen’s hundredth birthday.

“That’s not old is it?” he asks. “I always thought old was 15 years older than I am.

“But I always believed this:

“If you stop looking ahead, if all hope is gone, if you’re only looking back, you are old. But if from life you take the best, and if in life you keep the zest, No matter how the years go by, no matter how the birthdays fly, You are not old.”

The congregations of the Bridgetown, Centrelea and West Dalhousie Baptist Churches had a special service to honour Dr. Allen on Sunday, March 17. The Order of Good Cheer held a party with 120 guests for Dr. Allen in Nictaux on Wednesday, March 20. And many more showed up at Crosskill Court on his actual birthday on Thursday, March 21.

All four children, David, Paul, Mary (McLeod) and John made it for the party.

“The Lord has been awful good to me all through my hundred years,” said Dr. Allen. “He gave me a wonderful wife, four beautiful children, six grand children. God gave me wonderful churches, wonderful congregations, wonderful people to work with. What more could a fellow ask for?”

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Organizations: Acadia University

Geographic location: Bridgetown, Clementsvale, Mahone Bay Acadia Cornwall North Sydney Truro Black River Wolfville Posting—Mahone Bay North West Indian Point Hermans Island Upper Canard Dartmouth Stevens Road Nictaux

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Recent comments

  • M.
    April 01, 2013 - 15:05

    Dr. Allen has done a few sermons at my church, I have always found him inspiring and energetic. Happy Birthday!

  • Pastor David Cumby
    March 30, 2013 - 10:39

    Jonathan: What an excellent job on this milestone event, week & ministry of Rev. Dr. George Allen. It has been a blessing to have Dr. George (& his wife June while she was alive) back in Bridgetown and his long time Pastoral Charge. Having entered pastoral ministry later in life, I have been learning so much from this veteran and loving Pastor during my 4 years at Bridgetown Baptist. We were privileged to be able to confer on him the long overdue honour of Pastor Emeritus in a special afternoon service in May 2012 - not long after his 99th birthday. Thank you again for giving his 100th birthday the coverage it deserves, with such an extensive article and additional pictures in the photo gallery.

  • John MacKay
    March 28, 2013 - 15:55

    When Jane and I were married in 1998,there was no doubt who who marry us. I have on video Dr. Allen serenading my then new wife Jane a rendition of 'Truly". We will treasure that day and moment forever. Dr Allen is a true gentlemen. They don't make 'em like that anymore. John and Jane MacKay & Family - Edmonton AB

  • Pat Timmermans
    March 27, 2013 - 09:38

    "Absorbing the Beatles song..."Here, There, & Everwhere"...relating the Energies to Our Creator Who IS "Here, There, & Everywhere"...finding the Golden Thread of Your Key Words relating to a Beautiful Spirit, George Allen, Who is Exemplifying the Pure Love that IS God....makes Hearts Sing! Deepest Gratitude, Jonathan for transmitting Light out into Our World...Love Is All There Is!..." Love Always & Forever, L.A.A.F. Pat Timmermans...Purveyor of "Endless Possibilities!"

  • Dr. Wallace H. Jorden
    March 26, 2013 - 21:27

    What a happy and blessed Centenarian indeed; and what a happy celebration among those he loves! I have fond memories of serving in sister churches of the Annapolis-Digby United Baptist Association with Dr. Allen in the 1970s. In fact, one of the churches on the pastorate was in the community of Clementsport, which was next to the community of Clementsvale, where he met and married his bride and helpmate. Dr. Allen is a man with a deep and abiding love for God and a steadfast commitment and affection for God's people. Truly, it can be said of George Allen what was said of King David by Samuel, the prophet: "The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart." (1 Samuel 13:14)

  • Karla Kelly
    March 26, 2013 - 13:06

    Thanks for taking the time to interview Dr. Allen. An excellent job!!! I am sure you did not leave untouched by this man! What a great humanitarian George Allen is and how he has served the Lord with love and compassion and humor for so many years!!!