Rev. Maxine Allen accepts the Philander Smith College Living Legend a ceremony in 2015. Pictured alongside her are, from left to right, Philander Smith College President Roderick Smothers and Philander Smith College Chaplain the Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow.
Building Bridges and creating lasting change.
It was Thanksgiving 1964 and Rev. Maxine Allen (Gammon Theological Seminary ’97) was attending the last night of a revival, when people went door-to-door knocking and from church-to-church for the revival. At the end of the service, the pastor’s altar call came for those called into ministry. Allen and another female friend, both age 14, went forward but the evangelists only took the boys to kneel at the altar.
Gammon Theological Seminary is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment of the United Methodist Church.
“We don’t think you understand what you are saying,” the revivalists said to her, explaining to Allen the types of ministries God had for women.
“I believe that God is calling me into ministry,” Allen replied to the male pastors. “Not Africa’s missionary, a Christian educator or to be a preacher’s wife. God is calling me into ministry.”
Allen had been equipped early to speak truth to power in her home. She grew up in a home where the Bible was talked about by her mother, a president of the United Methodist Women at their church.
|Rev. Maxine Allen presents a message at Annual Conference 2017.|
Yet instead of pastoral ministry, Allen went on as an adult to work for Bell telephone company, rising to the level of an administrator writing training manuals for service representatives in the business office. One night, she saw the first African-American woman to be elected bishop preach barefoot at Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church. Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelley changed everything for her.
“I can do that!” she realized at that moment. “It was all a big lie. The Methodist Episcopal Church told me in 1964… that God does not call women to preach. And I believed that for 30 years.”
Not wasting time, she began her undergraduate education at age 39. She became a Philander Smith alumna in 1993, and a 1997 graduate of Gammon Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia with a Master of Divinity.
Allen recalls her thoughts waiting in line for the laying on of hands where she was about to become the first African-American woman in the Arkansas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church ordained an elder in full connection in 1999. “This conference is never going to be the same again,” she thought to herself.
Her thoughts proved prophetic, a term she uses to describe her ministry and mission. Her service spans nearly five decades as a proponent for social justice, human rights and the grace of God. At Annual Conference 2018, Allen retired from her position as Assistant Director of Mission and Ministry for Mission Field Engagement in the conference office.
The scope of her ministry has been and continues to be wide and deep – from her work in the Little Rock community and Arkansas government, interfaith organizations, The Arkansas United Methodist church, The United Methodist Church and mission trips internationally. But ask Allen what most captures her spirit and she will quickly say “young people.”
Regina Gideon, featured contributor, Arkansas United Methodist magazine
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.