Dr. Jimmy R. Allen

October 26, 1927January 8, 2019

Dr. Jimmy R. Allen, 91, died on January 8, at Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick, Georgia.

Dr. Allen is a former President of the Southern Baptist Convention (1978-1979). Named in 1999 as one of the most influential Baptists of the Twentieth Century, Allen was the last moderate president of the Convention. Dr. Allen served as Pastor of the 9,000 member First Baptist Church of San Antonio, Texas from 1968 to 1980. He led that center city congregation to establish new social ministries, while at the same time expanding its evangelism and nurturing ministry. A pioneer in religious broadcasting, Dr. Allen served as President and CEO of the Radio and Television Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. As a television producer, he won an "Emmy" from the American Academy of Arts and Entertainment for the best Special Program in the nation in 1988; produced for ABC Television, the program, entitled "China: Walls and Bridges," was filmed in the People's Republic of China.

Dr. Allen was a leader in causes of ethical concerns. From 1960 to 1968, he was Director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and in 1962, conducted the first state workshop on Christianity and Race Relations in Southern Baptist history. He served on the Planning Conference for the first White House Conference on Civil Rights. He was committed to the separation of church and state, and from 1973 to 1978 served as President of Americans United.

Dr. Allen served as a Non-Governmental Observer at the United Nations (1962). In 1974 he received the Citation of Merit from the Government of Honduras for humanitarian service in the wake of a natural disaster. He led a fact-finding mission to Iran during the hostage crisis at the United States Embassy in Teheran (1979-80) and was one of the few Americans to meet personally with the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Dr. Allen's book, Burden of a Secret, is a personal account of his family's struggles as a transfusion related HIV virus caused the death of his two grandchildren and their mother. That experience was basis of a call to churches to banish fear of AIDS.

In 2008-09, Dr. Allen served as program chair and coordinator for the New Baptist Covenant, a pan-Baptist gathering spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter, promoting racial unity.

Dr. Allen was Chaplain Emeritus of Big Canoe Chapel, a multi-denominational chapel in the North Georgia mountains, where he served as Chaplain for 12 years. At the time of his death he lived with his wife Linda on St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

Dr. Allen's earned degrees include a Bachelor of Arts from Howard Payne University, a Bachelor of Divinity and a Doctorate of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the recipient of five honorary doctorates.

Dr. Allen was preceded in death by two sons, Michael Allen and Stephen Allen; three grandchildren; and his wife of 52 years, Wanda Allen. He is survived by a son, Benjamin Allen of Lake Tahoe, and his wife of 14 years, Linda Allen.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m., January 14, at the First Baptist Church of St. Simon's Island; and at 2 p.m., January 18, at the Big Canoe Chapel, Big Canoe, Georgia.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the national organization of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, 160 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 500, Decatur, Georgia 30030; or the New Baptist Covenant, 601 50th Street, NE, Washington DC 20019.


  • Memorial Service Monday, January 14, 2019

Dr. Jimmy R. Allen

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Gail Grisell

February 22, 2019

God Bless and Hold each of you, his precious family, in this time of parting. Dr. Allen is my spiritual father. When he pastored First Baptist Church In San Antonio I walked the aisle and he met me there and led me back to Jesus. I was 26 and now I’m 72. He was my pastor until he left and trained me up in the Word. I have grown in passion and love for the Lord and have always been committed to help others to Him as Dr. Allen led me. My heart, as his, is evangelism. God has Graciously Used me to bring others as He Used Dr. Allen to bring me. The heritage of the upright shall be Blessed. I am a heritage of his life poured out and I am so very Blessed through this upright faithful servant’s parenting of my spiritual life. I only saw today that Dr. Allen, my pastor, spiritual father and beloved brother in Christ has gone Home. I am so thrilled for him and so acutely aware of the hole in all of our lives at his leaving. Thank You Lord for the Gift from Your Hands of Your son and glad slave Dr. Jimmy Allen.

Diane Laughlin

January 13, 2019

My parents, Betty and Heath, were good friends with Jimmy and Wanda. The Allens were lovely people. He was a very important part of the Big Canoe Chapel history. I'm sure my mother and Charlene and crowd were there to greet him. :-) He will be missed.