Posts Tagged visionary

Jimmy Allen, visionary denominational leader, dies*

BOB ALLEN | JANUARY 8, 2019 – BaptistNewsGlobal

Jimmy R. Allen, the last moderate president of the Southern Baptist Convention and executive director emeritus of the New Baptist Covenant, died early Jan. 8 at Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, Georgia.

His pastor, Tony Lankford of First Baptist Church of St. Simons Island, said the 91-year-old had been in failing health. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Jimmy Allen

Named in 1999 one of the most influential Baptists of the 20th century, Allen served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1978 and 1979, the two years before conservatives took over control of the nation’s largest Protestant body in a move they called the “conservative resurgence.”

In 1990 he presided over the Consultation of Concerned Baptists in Atlanta, forerunner to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. In 2008 he agreed to become program chair and coordinator for the New Baptist Covenant, a pan-Baptist gathering promoting racial unity spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter.

In 1995 Allen wrote the book Burden of a Secret, a personal account of his family’s battle with AIDS.

A pioneer in religious broadcasting, he led the Southern Baptist Convention’s Radio and Television Commission from 1980 to 1990, hosting a national cable talk show called “Life Today.” In 1988 he won an Emmy as producer of a show produced for ABC television filmed in the People’s Republic of China titled “China: Walls and Bridges.”

Always interested in ethical concerns, Allen led the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1960 to 1968. In 1962 he helped plan the first state workshop on Christianity and race relations in Southern Baptist history. During the Johnson administration he helped plan the first White House Conference on Civil Rights.

From 1968 until 1980 Allen served as pastor of First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas – at the time the sixth largest church in the SBC – leading the urban congregation to establish new social ministries while at the same time expanding its evangelism and nurturing ministry base.

As SBC president he launched Mission Service Corps, a pathway for adults to serve as missionaries, and was chief promoter of Bold Mission Thrust, a plan to take the gospel to every person on earth by the year 2000.

In 1993 Allen joined Los Angeles Times journalist John Dart in a prize-winning report on the relationship between news media and religion called Bridging the Gap.

He once served as a non-governmental observer at the United Nations and led a fact-finding mission to Iran during the hostage crisis at the United States embassy in Tehran in 1979-1980.

In later years he served as chaplain of Big Canoe Chapel, a multi-denominational chapel in the north Georgia mountains, before moving to St. Simons Island in retirement. Lankford, who began serving at First Baptist Church in St. Simons Island in 2015, called it “an honor to get to know him.”

“He blazed a trail of ministry in such a way that younger men and women could follow,” Lankford said. “Many people, including me, are grateful for the life and ministry of Rev. Dr. Jimmy Allen.”

Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said she has “known, loved and respected Jimmy Allen” her entire life.

Paynter called Allen “a visionary Baptist leader who believed in the power to convene good people for the surprising work of God.”

Paynter said Allen “engaged in honest dialogue and true cooperative ministry” and “brought a strong voice of encouragement and expectation to any endeavor.”

“I am so grateful for this pilgrim of faith,” Paynter said.

Hannah McMahan, executive director of the New Baptist Covenant, described Allen as “a man of vision and compassion” who will be “sorely missed.”

“He dedicated his life to the steadfast work of the gospel and was a shining example of a life well-lived,” she said. “Under his leadership, the inaugural meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in 2008 reminded our entire Baptist family what we are capable of when we lean into the best of who we are.”

*I first met this wonderful man in 1986 when I went to be interviewed on the Acts Network in Ft. Worth. Years later he graciously agreed to write a chapter in my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. I was blessed to attend the first meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta. His vision and leadership will be missed.

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Thankful Thursday – David F. Dunlap

On this Thankful Thursday I am grateful for the contributions of David Dunlap to my life, David will retire tomorrow, May 31, after almost 30 years as director of Webster University in South Carolina. He started at the Charleston campus and guided the development of the state system. The Columbia, SC campus is now the largest campus outside St. Louis.– the home campus. David also directed the Leiden program in the Netherlands.

David is a native of Columbia, SC and received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Appalachian State. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Alabama — Roll Tide.

For several summers I taught a special course dealing with the not-for-profit sector of our economy. The class visited many agencies and/or the agency representatives came to the campus to speak. When the course ended, David invited all of those who had contributed their time to the class to a luncheon at the Harbor Club. His generosity created a great community bond with all those who participated. Thank you David for your leadership.

David Dunlap is a dedicated educator, a brilliant administrator, a visionary, a trusted colleague, and a valued friend. On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that he brings to my life and I wish him a well deserved fantastic retirement.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the contributions of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.


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Thankful Thursday – Thomas Walpool

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gifts that Tom Walpool brings to my life. For many years Tom was the innovative director of the Greenville, SC Hearing, Speech and Learning Center. He started a thriving program for learning disabled children and had the first industrial hearing testing mobile unit in the state. He was the driving force behind a huge Appalachian Area Grant that made a great difference to the lives of people of that area of the state. He also started a program to train Hearing Ear Dogs. Perhaps most important is his willingness to share what he knew with others. Tom grew up in Tennessee. He graduated from East Tennessee State and received his Master’s Degree from the University of Alabama. Tom is a past president of the South Carolina Speech Language and Hearing Association and received the Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award. He moved to Aiken, SC to retire, but couldn’t stay out of the traces. He is working with the school system as a consultant doing diagnostic and clinical services. Tom is like the Energizer Bunny.  He is a great example of, “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Tom made working together fun. A great friendship developed among the directors of community speech and hearing centers in the state and much of that was due to Tom’s leadership. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for Tom Walpool.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone special to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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