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Greg Allen continues helping others in new pastor role

He had been the associate pastor prior to being voted in as the new senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene.

greg allen nazarene church 010622
The Rev. Greg Allen, senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene in Jamestown, talks Jan. 6 about his new role.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – Greg Allen is the new senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene (J1Naz) in Jamestown. For the man who officially retired in November 2020 from a lifetime of work in business, it would seem like a contrary choice to start a new career, and a full-time one, at that.

Allen doesn’t see it that way.

“This is the most rewarding time of my life and so I don’t feel like I’m in a job, as you say,” he said. “I feel like I’m fulfilling a calling that’s been in my heart for years.”

He said it’s a rewarding ministry not only to him but to anyone that he can offer help.

“This is the greatest … season, if you want to call it that, of my life,” Allen said. “And I want to do this until I’m done.”

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Long career in personnel

Allen grew up in Westchester County, New York, the son of a pastor who came to North Dakota on a track and football scholarship at what was then Valley City State College. He said he didn’t really know where he was headed and had to look up the state on a map.

He would meet his future wife, Mary, at VCSC. He would also take a job at the company now known as Collins Aerospace in Jamestown.

“I came in as a machinist working night shift and enjoyed that,” he said. “And at the same time, they offered a program where you could go to college and they would pay for your college. And so I would work night shift and then I would take classes during the day. It was hectic because I was raising a family as well.”

After graduating from VCSC with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, he moved into a personnel position at Collins Aerospace. He eventually took a human resources job at Cavendish Farms, later returning to Collins Aerospace. He worked a total of about 23 years at Collins Aerospace and 18 years at Cavendish Farms.

“I loved both jobs,” he said. “In all my positions, I felt like I’m serving the people. I mean that was the whole purpose of it, I was there to serve them and to help them.”

Allen is also currently president of the Jamestown Public School Board. When he decided not to run for school board again in 2018, he was reelected by a write-in ballot and felt it was important to continue to serve because of that vote.

“It really showed me what the community of Jamestown was all about,” he said. “It really had to do with your character and not your color. … It showed me that these people respect you for who you are.”

Allen is the longest-serving school board member in history of the Jamestown Public School District, said Sally Ost, business manager. He will have served 28 years at the end of his term in June and will not serve another due to his full-time work at the church.

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A call to do more

Allen said he became a Christian in 1976 and felt a call to do more than attend worship services. He taught Sunday school, directed the choir and started speaking, filling in at area churches when asked.

“It didn’t matter to me what denomination it was because the whole message was that Jesus loves you and here’s how he can help you in your life,” Allen said. “Here’s how he can make your life better.”

In May 2021, Allen was elected to the J1Naz church board and as board secretary. He became associate pastor in 2021 and is taking classes to become an ordained pastor, expected in 2023.

Dr. Jim Kraemer has served as a district superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene for 21 years. For the last three years, Kraemer served as senior pastor at J1Naz. He is leaving at the end of the month to start a church in Tucson, Arizona.

After Kraemer suggested Allen for the senior pastor job to church officials, J1Naz members and non-members who attend the church unanimously approved the proposal in separate votes. Kraemer’s last Sunday is Jan. 30, the day Allen will be officially installed. The church is looking for a new associate pastor.

“I saw in Greg Allen right away leadership skills that exceed what many pastors get in their training, in their formal training because of his experience in the corporate world here in Jamestown,” Kraemer said. “And most of that is dealing with people. One of the most important skills of a pastor is your relationships with people, and what I seem to find all over Jamestown is everybody loves Greg Allen. He’s just a kind, caring person and that’s the atmosphere of our church. A very loving church. Nonjudgmental. Wants to reach into the lives of people.”

Deeper relationship after loss

The Allens have three daughters, Ida, Eva and Rhea, and a son, Abe, who they adopted from Haiti. They also have 12 grandchildren.

Ida passed away from cancer on May 7, 2021, at the age of 44.

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“After the loss of my daughter … it has taken me into a deeper relationship with God than I’ve ever had before and it has put that passion in me more than anything,” Allen said. “I mean, I know where she is today, I know she’s in heaven, there’s no question but it really woke more up in me, it took me deeper in love. And I know some people when things like that happen they might get upset, they might get mad at God, but it only drew me deeper.”

Allen preached at Ida’s funeral.

“And a lot of people said, ‘How could you do that, I could never do that,’” Allen said. “I did that because I was in a depth of God’s love that I hadn’t experienced, and I said, ‘I want to be the one to send her off,’ if you will, because of how I felt about that. I know it sounds a little crazy, but that’s just how it fell into place. And it was beautiful.”

Work at J1Naz

In his work at J1Naz, Allen said he wants to continue helping people as he has done all his life.

“The idea that is most intriguing to me is that I feel that now I can serve this community even more than I ever have before,” he said.

J1Naz would like to do more with other churches if possible, Allen said.

“And that’s an important part because it’s not just First Church of the Nazarene … it’s all the churches that are preaching the Gospel. We need to do this together,” he said.

He said many people are going through difficulties.

“People need hope, they need peace, they need love, and I feel that that’s the greatest thing with the help of this congregation that I can give,” he said. “And I want to finish out my days doing that, that to me is what I want to do. And I feel that we can. Marriages are struggling, homes are struggling, and I feel that we can offer something that can really help people.”

Allen also said his wife has been very supportive in this ministry.

“She is 100 percent behind me, of course, she was a teacher and felt that that was her ministry at that time, being a teacher at the school, and now being able to support in this ministry, she feels, ‘yeah, this is what we need to do,’” he said.

J1Naz has worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays and offers a variety of groups for all ages. For more information, visit www.j1naz.org .

Related Topics: FAITH
Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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