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Friday, June 14, 2024

Watch Night, A New Year’s Tradition

By Ivan Saul Cutler, Carolina Peacemaker / January 5, 2024

New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Pastor William F. Wright Jr., left, Shiloh Baptist Church Pastor W. Steve Allen, Trinity AME Zion Church Pastor Daran Mitchell, and St. Matthews United Methodist Church Pastor Rodvegas Marc Ingram Sr. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

On Watch Night with clear-eyed resolve, the legally and spiritually accomplished Rev. W. Steve Allen joyfully preached his final “official” message of hope, responsibility, and vigilance to the rapt attention of a visibly connected audience of family and friends.

Within minutes of the approaching New Year 2024, the devoted, recently retired pastor of Greensboro’s historic Shiloh Baptist Church towered in the pulpit of Trinity AME Zion Church to invoke and evoke the admonishing words from Old Testament’s Isaiah 43 of intentionally focusing on the future instead of dwelling in the past “wilderness.” Earlier on Dec. 31, Allen delivered his final sermon at Shiloh.

Responding to the sermon of Rev. W. Steve Allen, (L-R): Lynn Kennedy Mitchell; Rev. Allen’s daughters Stephanie Allen and Melanie Allen and his wife Sharlene Allen. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

In classic whooping call-and-response lilt, with a gentle bounce for emphasis, Allen implied that personal emancipation arises from unswerving devotion to fighting injustice with righteous indignation and responsible action, individually and collectively. He received vocal support from Shiloh’s church choir there to honor him, as well as Trinity’s Pastor Rev. Dr. Daran Mitchell, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Pastor William F. Wright Jr. and St. Matthews United Methodist Church Pastor Rodvegas Marc Ingram Sr.

Allen officially retired as the 11th Senior Pastor from his beloved church where he and his family have been lifelong members. He rose to the church’s leadership after a stellar legal career, civil rights attorney, and the first African American Superior Court Judge in Guilford County since Reconstruction.

Over the years, Allen received community and theological recognition for his indefatigable commitment to civil rights, lifelong learning and, as daughter Stephanie Allen said, “holistic outreach ministry” to serve others in many public and private ways.

Steve Allen graduated as salutatorian at Greensboro’s James B. Dudley High School in 1973. He went on to graduate summa cum laude from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in 1976. Allen earned a juris doctorate from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1978. In 2007, he was licensed as a Baptist preacher by Shiloh Baptist Church. Two years later, Shiloh Baptist Church ordained Allen. He received a master’s degree in divinity from Shaw University Divinity School in 2011.

Reverend Allen is married to Sharlene Fuller Allen. They are the proud parents of six children: Stephanie Lanae Allen, Melanie Renee Allen, William Steven Allen Jr., Irving David Allen, Richard Erwin Allen and Lara Simone Allen. They have four grandchildren: Amaya Nicole Wilkins-Allen, Kamryn Elise Allen, Kawai Allen and Jayson William Allen.


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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