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Reverend Dr. James Sterling Allen, Sr.

October 5, 1936 November 22, 2020
Reverend Dr.  James  Sterling  Allen, Sr.
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Obituary for Reverend Dr. James Sterling Allen, Sr.

In Profound Sorrow
The Vine Memorial Baptist Church announces the Homegoing of our beloved
Pastor Emeritus, Reverend Dr. James Sterling Allen, Sr.

Dr. Allen transitioned peacefully at home
surrounded by his wife and family on
Sunday evening, November 22, 2020.


Please keep Sister Allen, the Family, &
The Vine Memorial Baptist Church Family
in your prayers

A public viewing will occur on
Sunday, December 6, 2020
from 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Vine Memorial Baptist Church
5600 West Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa. 19131

To all who will be in attendance to the viewing on Sunday, please be mindful
to wear masks, sanitize, and show your loving respect
by keeping a healthy 6 ft. distance from others while
refraining from lingering after you view.

Following the safety guidelines set by the CDC,
The Allen Family has invited the guests
who will be in attendance for the viewing and funeral service on Monday, December 7, 2020.
Thank you in advance for honoring their requests.

To accommodate the public at large,
a live stream presentation of
the Homegoing services will occur on
Monday, December 7, 2020 at 11:00 a.m.

Go To: www.cwoodfh.com , Click Obituaries
Find Dr. Allen's name and picture,
Scroll to the third box under his picture,
click watch webcast and Join meeting.

In lieu of flowers,
The family request that donations be made to
Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock, Ar.
Please forward in the care of
Vine Memorial Baptist Church
5600 West Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa. 19131


For those who still desire to send flowers,
Please direct florists to deliver
ONLY between the hours of
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
on Saturday, December 5, 2020
to Vine Memorial Baptist Church

Friends may park if necessary at
Camphor United Methodist Church's
parking lot
5620 Wyalusing Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131

A church bus will be provided to take guests from
parking lot to the viewing and back to their vehicles after they view.

Friends may share sympathy cards, resolutions
and condolences with the family by
giving or mailing them to :

Vine Memorial Baptist Church
5600 W. Girard Avenue
Philadelphia., PA 19131

Interment: Westminster Cemetery
701 Belmont Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004

The Obituary

Reverend James S. Allen, D.D.

The Rev. James S. Allen was born October 5, 1936, in Columbia County, Arkansas, the second of six children born to Walter Ulysses and Georgia L. (nee Edwards) Allen. They were sharecroppers who picked cotton and other crops to make a living on land that was not their own. James grew up at a time when there was deep segregation and intense discrimination toward African Americans. Jim Crow was the law of the land. While his early education was in a three-room schoolhouse and he walked four miles to and from school every day, young “James Sterling” still found time to enjoy playing basketball and baseball along with his brothers and their friends in the community. At the heart of their community was Friendship Baptist Church of Mt. Holly, Arkansas, where James’ faith was shaped and a solid Biblical foundation was laid. He was baptized at the age of eight, and in his high school years when he was able to ride the bus to New Hope High School, he became known for “re-preaching” the Sunday morning sermon to his friends and classmates.
James’ world changed when his father died of complications from cancer and alcoholism, leaving behind a grieving widow, along with James and his five siblings. Their landlord immediately evicted them, reasoning that a mother with six young children couldn’t possibly maintain a farm and deliver the crops on time. Suddenly they were homeless until members of the local Masonic lodge stepped in to help them build a house even as the family was occupying it. Under the strong hand of their mother, each of the children graduated from high school where they excelled academically and athletically. Although James graduated valedictorian of his class, he could not find a job when he finished high school and did not have the funds to attend college. He soon joined the United States Air Force during the Korean Conflict, and he was honorably discharged in 1957. While in Korea, he felt the unction of God calling him to preach. On furlough from Korea in 1956, at the age of 19, James preached his trial sermon in the pulpit of his beloved Friendship Baptist Church in Mt. Holly.
On July 5, 1957, he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Jean Hunter, who departed this life in September 2001. Their 44-year union was blessed with four children, Patricia Kaye, Kenneth Andre, James Sterling, Jr., and Calvin Ulysses. Rev. Allen served with distinction as pastor of three congregations in three different cities: First Baptist Church-Highland Park in Little Rock, AR (1959-1971); Zion Baptist Church (1971-1978) in Omaha, NE; and Vine Memorial Baptist Church (1978-2015) in Philadelphia, PA. Pastor Allen always considered himself blessed to have followed outstanding preachers in each of the churches where he served. He also recognized the blessing of his opportunities to be in special places at special times. He enrolled at the Arkansas Baptist College, in Little Rock, Arkansas on the same day President Eisenhower ordered military troops into Little Rock, to protect nine black students who were desegregating Central High School. He assisted the late Dr. Leon H. Sullivan in establishing the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in Little Rock, and in rebuilding the OIC in Omaha. He was a seminary student at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, and present at the Installation Service of Dr. Ralph Abernathy as Pastor of West Hunter Street Baptist Church, in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the Installation Sermon. Dr. Leon Sullivan personally invited him to serve on the steering committee that planned the first and second African/African American Summits. He attended both.
Rev. Allen has also held several leadership positions in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., serving as an instructor, division leader, lecturer, and Vice-President of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education; Chairman of the Host Committee of the historic Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. held in Philadelphia, in 2002; he chaired the host committee again in 2007. He also served as Director of the convention’s Ministers Division and Chairman of the groundbreaking 1992 and 1997 Convention Election Commissions where voting machines were used for the first time in the convention’s history.
In 1978, Rev. Allen responded to God’s call to leave Zion to become the second Pastor in the forty-six-year history of Vine Memorial Baptist Church. From 1978 to 2015, Rev. Allen pastored Vine Memorial Baptist Church with distinction. Over the span of his forty-two years in the city of Philadelphia, his good work continued. He served in city government as Special Assistant to Mayor W. Wilson Goode, Chairman of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations in three different mayoral administrations, and a member of the Philadelphia Housing Commission. Rev. Allen also served as Moderator of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and Vice President of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention. After leading the African American preachers of Philadelphia in a protest to end the 1981 teachers strike that backed up traffic on Broad and Vine Streets for miles, Rev. Allen became the founding president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
On August 1, 2008, Pastor Allen was united in matrimony to the former Henrietta “Penny” Lemmon Barnes. They enjoyed a happy and harmonious life together until his passing on Sunday, November 22, 2020. Throughout his 64 years of ministry, Rev. Allen believed that God calls his disciples to positions of service and then moves them on to the next task. Therefore, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”
On December 31, 2015, Pastor Allen preached his final sermon as the shepherd of Vine Memorial Baptist Church. In recognition of his 37½ years of distinguished service, in its 2015 annual meeting, Vine Memorial bestowed on him the title “Pastor Emeritus.” In October 2016, Vine Memorial celebrated the 80th birthday and official retirement of Pastor Allen.
Rev. James S. Allen was preceded in death by his parents, one sister, two brothers, wife Dorothy J. Allen, and twin son, Clifton Allen. He leaves to mourn his life and celebrate his legacy, his beloved wife, Henrietta “Penny” Allen; one sister, Ezell Lavan, of Texarkana, AR; one brother, Walter U. Allen, Jr., of Atlanta, GA; four children, Patricia Allen (Zachary) Harmon, of Mansfield, TX, Rev. Kenneth (Sandra) Allen, James (Rev. Wanda) Allen, Jr., of Broomall, PA; and Calvin (Melanie) Allen, of Bryn Mawr, PA; seven grandchildren, Michael Harmon, Matthew Harmon, Mathis Allen, Kenneth Allen, II, Joshua Allen, Noelle Allen, Kayla Cohen; three brothers-in-law, Arthur Lemmon, Julius Hunter, Milton Hunter; one sister-in-law, Doris Hunter Taylor; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and godchildren.

To send flowers in memory of Reverend Dr. James Sterling Allen, Sr., visit the Tribute Store.

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