First Baptist Fridays: The Life of Bart E. Allen (Part 3 of 3)

This biography of Dr. Allen was originally written at the time of his retirement. Click here for part 1 of this series, and here for part 2.

The Life of Bart E. Allen (Part 3 of 3)

On January 16, 1952, a special business meeting of the church was held—a solemn and unhappy occasion for the majority of the members, and certainly for our beloved pastor For at this time his formal request for retirement was presented by the board of deacons and advisory board to the church at large The advisory board recommended that Dr. Allen’s request that his retirement begin May 1, 1952, be granted. This was so voted and the board then recommended adoption of a contract with Dr. Allen. This contract was adopted and provides that he shall receive a life pension of $3500.00 per year, in recognition and appreciation of his twenty eight years of devoted service to the Lord in this church. This recommendation was unanimously adopted Dr Allen, in his remarks, spoke of his happiness in his work in Rockford through the years, and said that his reason for wishing to retire at this time was solely that he felt the increasingly heavy demands of his position as pastor had become too great for him to attempt to fulfill at his time of life. He assured us that he will remain with us as a member of the church, and expressed deep gratitude for the pension voted him.

At a business meeting held later in January, Dr. Allen was voted the title of Pastor Emeritus. Also at this meeting, the advisory board recommended that the assistant pastor, Rev. Will H. Bisgaard, be extended the call to become First Baptist’s next pastor. This recommendation was adopted and Rev Bisgaard accepted the call. He will take up his duties as pastor on May 1, 1952.

Thus comes to a close, officially, the noteworthy active career of an able and courageous man of God. But as a Christian layman he still will find many tasks to perform for his Lord alertly interested as he is in every aspect of church and community life around him.

This church has been uniquely blessed in having had such a man as B.E. Allen, chosen of God, to lead her skillfully and firmly through all the years of growth from a struggling rather disunited little group of 275 souls to its present vigorously active and spiritually minded membership of well over one thousand. Nowhere could there be found a more devoted pastor, willing to give the entire twenty four hours of a day, if need be, to any member of his flock who was ill or in trouble. Always, he has been available on call day or night and the community as a whole, in addition to his own church people, has grown to rely upon him for all sorts of advice and assistance.

The high standard of integrity and rigorous work schedule Dr. Allen always has set for himself have amazed and impressed even his opponents — for he has had some — and everyone who knows him admires his unshakeable faith in the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God, and his firm stand for everything upright and honest in both public and private life. More than once during his career has he had to face not only criticism but actual persecution. During Prohibition days, his stalwart stand against “John Barleycorn,” boot-legging, and the like even brought threats against his life!

Never satisfied with half-way measures, Dr Allen, once convinced a cause is right and in need of his support, gives his wholehearted effort and thought to it. He is a past president of the Central Area of the Conservative Baptist Association, and at the present time, is Secretary of the Board of the American Association for Jewish Evangelism, as well as Vice-president of the Temperance League of Illinois.

Although to some who have not known him well and his firmness of character may have made him seem somewhat stern at times, Dr. Allen actually has a genial, sympathetic nature, and a lively and keen sense of humor. He enjoys saying that he has had as much fun throughout his life as anyone he knows. Among the recreations he especially has always enjoyed are attending baseball games (a sport in which he excelled as a youth), camping, and travel.

This sketch would be entirely incomplete if no mention were made of Dr. Allen’s lovely wife, Grace Fuller Allen, and of her splendid influence upon the lives of all who have come into contact with her. If ever a woman was perfectly suited in every respect to be a minister’s wonderful and loyal helpmate through the years, it is she. Sweet and winsome by nature, she has been ever a loving friend to all who have known her, and never at any time, despite much ill health and many other trials and testings, has she shown the slightest meanness of spirit nor spoken harshly to any of us. Many a time her gay little laugh and friendly word have smoothed the way for some of us possessed of far less patience and loving kindness than is she!

The lives Dr. and Mrs. Allen have lived before our church’s people all these past twenty-eight years have been constant testimonies to us of God’s marvelous grace and blessing toward those who truly love and seek to serve Him. The Book of Titus, chapter two, verses seven and eight, almost exactly describes the example the Allens have set among us.

It is with the greatest reluctance and regret that we take leave of Dr. Allen as pastor. All of the words that might be set down here, in whatever form or combination, never could express what his and Mrs. Allen’s work among us has meant to us all. We only can hope and pray for them every good and lovely thing in the years ahead, and rejoice that they are to remain with us as church members. May God richly bless them both!

Click the link below for a PDF of the entire text in this series:

A Sketch of the Career of Dr. B. E. Allen