Sept. 20, 2004
By United Methodist News Service*
Bishop L. Scott Allen, 86, the last bishop elected in the former
Methodist Church - now part of the United Methodist Church - died Sept.
18 at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta of complications from pneumonia.
Bishop L. Scott Allen
was also the last bishop elected in the former Methodist Central
Jurisdiction, a racially constituted entity created in the predominantly
white church in 1939 but dissolved early in 1968.
was a giant of a leader in our denomination," said North Georgia Bishop
Lindsey Davis, one of several speakers scheduled for Allen’s funeral
service Sept. 22. "Even after he retired, he continued to have a
wonderful impact on our church through his work at Gammon (Theological
Seminary) and the way he mentored so many of the young pastors who were
coming through Gammon."
recalled visiting Allen, who had suffered from a number of illnesses in
recent years, on Sept. 5. "He told me, ‘Bishop, I’m ready to go on to
the other side of the river.’"
native of Meridian, Miss., Allen served as a pastor, editor and teacher
before being elected a bishop by the Central Jurisdiction Aug. 18,
1967, and assigned to the Gulf Coast Area, including Central Alabama,
Florida and Mississippi.
Central Jurisdiction was eliminated as a condition for union between
the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches in April 1968. In
the new United Methodist Church, Allen was reassigned to the Holston
Annual (regional) Conference, comprising congregations in Southwest
Virginia, East Tennessee and North Georgia in the predominantly white
Southeastern Jurisdiction. In 1976, he was assigned to the Charlotte
(N.C.) Area, where he served until his retirement in 1984.
Only one other bishop remains who was elected in the former Methodist Central Jurisdiction: James S. Thomas of Atlanta.
recalled that his ministry paralleled Allen’s. They became friends at
Gammon in 1940, said Thomas, who was elected to the episcopacy in 1964.
had a very high conception of the church," Thomas said. "He loved the
church, and that was why he was such a careful student of the Bible, of
theology, and also of the Book of Discipline."
also recalled that from his earliest days, Allen was always impeccably
dressed in his preacher’s attire: dark suit, white tie and hat. "I knew
him for 64 years, and I’ve never seen him in shirt sleeves."
really believed in the vision of the United Methodist Church; he really
believed in unity after merger," said M. Garlinda Burton, interim top
staff executive of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women in
Evanston, Ill. Allen was a family friend and mentor to Burton, and was
her childhood bishop in two different annual conferences.
the time of unity, a lot of people feared a loss of power for African
Americans, Burton said. "He encouraged us to take our gifts into the
larger church and to go in good faith. It was a scary time, but he
believed in sharing those strengths."
Davis: "Having gone through all the experiences he did, and coming into
being a bishop of the United Methodist Church in the late 1960s, he had
an incredible gift for forgiveness and reconciliation."
earned an undergraduate degree from Clark College and his bachelor of
divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary, both in Atlanta, and
his master of arts degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
He also had honorary degrees from several colleges. After his
retirement he established a Center for Ministerial Exchange, Education
and Training of a Ministry for Inclusiveness and Open Itinerancy at
Ordained an elder in 1942, he served as pastor of several churches in Georgia before being named editor of the Central Christian Advocate,
the fifth consecutive editor of the newspaper elected a bishop. One of
his predecessors was Bishop Prince Albert Taylor Jr., who died in 2001.
served on the governing boards of numerous United Methodist and
ecumenical agencies. He served as president of the church’s Commission
on Religion and Race, Commission on Archives and History, and the World
Division of the Board of Global Ministries. He was a member of the
Constituting Convention of the National Council of Churches in 1950 and
was active in the NAACP.
He is survived by his wife, the former Sara Adams, whom he married in 1942.
story was written by Tom McAnally, former director of United Methodist
News Service, with quotes provided by Alice Smith, editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate newspaper, and Tim Tanton of UMNS.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 and firstname.lastname@example.org.