Meet the Pastor

The Reverend James Sterling Allen, Sr.


The Reverend James Sterling Allen, Sr. was born in Columbia County, Arkansas, the second son of Walter U. and Georgia L. Allen. He grew up in rural Arkansas at a time when there was deep segregation and intense discrimination among the races. His early education was in a three-room schoolhouse, to which he had to walk four miles to and from each day.

Upon graduating from high school, as valedictorian of his class, and finding no jobs, as well as being unable to go to college because of the lack of finance, Reverend Allen joined the United States Air Force at the time of the Korean Conflict. He served in Korea and was honoraby discharged in 1957. While in Korea, he felt the unction of God calling him to the preaching ministry. When he returned from Korea in 1956, he began preaching in September of the same year.

On July 5, 1957, he was married to the late Dorothy Hunter Allen. This union was blessed to have four children, one daughter and three sons, and five grandsons. They lived and practiced ministry in three major cities of the United States: Little Rock, Arkansas, Omaha, Nebraska and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Reverend Allen considers himself blessed to have followed some of the outstanding preachers in the churches where he has served. He recognizes the blessing of his opportunities to be in special places at special times. He enrolled at the Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock, Arkansas on the same day President Eisenhower ordered military troops into Little Rock, because of the efforts to desegregate Central High School. He assisted the late Dr. Leon H. Sullivan in establishing the OIC in Little Rock and rebuilding the OIC in Omaha. He was a student at ITC, and present at the installation of Dr. Ralph Abernathy in the West Hunter Street Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the Installation Sermon. Reverend Allen was a part of the steering committee that assisted Dr. Leon Sullivan in planning the first and second African American summits. He attended both. Reverend Allen has received many honors and awards among them is the Outstanding SesQuicentennial Celebration 1986, Outstanding Citizen’s Award, Delaware Valley Christians and Jews 1985 and the Distinguish Service Award from Congressman William H. Gray 1980. Reverend Allen has and still serves in leadership positions of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. He is presently the fourth Vice President of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education. In the 1994 session, Reverend Allen served as Chairman of the Election Commission for the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. He served as the General Chair of the Host Committee of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. 2002. He will also serve in this position for the 2007 National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.

Over the span of his years in the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania his good work has continued. He has served in our city government as Special Assistant to the Mayor during the administration of Mayor W. Wilson Good. Presently, he serves as Chairman of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Reverend Allen is the Moderator of the Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association. He has served as president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and Vice President of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention. Reverend Allen was the first president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

Having pastored five churches in his denomination, Reverend Allen believes God calls us to positions of service and then moves us on to the next task. Therefore, he that is faithful in little will be faithful in much. He is the pastor of the Vine Memorial Baptist Church and has served this Church and community for the past thirty-six years.