Extension Ministry: Rev. Jeffrey Allen, West Virginia Council of Churches

By Barry Steiner Ball

Rev. Jeffrey Allen is an ordained elder and is assigned as an extension minister as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Council of Churches (WVCC).  Rev. Allen grew up in Glen Dale, WV, and attended Glen Dale UMC.  His extended family was a wild mixture of ecumenical traditions.  A few Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, a Baptist, and some United Methodists, his family was a miniature council of churches!

Rev. Allen counts a youth group mission trip with Appalachian Service Project to Kentucky as the beginning of his call into missions.  On that trip, as his youth group worked on a young woman’s house, the home owner’s father stopped by and was very concerned about these young strangers working all over his daughter’s house.  The young woman told her father, “Daddy, these are Christians, they are here because they love Jesus.”  That planted a seed in Rev. Allen that has kept him involved in active Christian witness for his whole adult life.

Like his ecumenical upbringing, Rev. Allen had a variety of higher education experiences.  He began at West Virginia Wesleyan, then went to the University of Colorado before coming back home to West Virginia University.  When all was said and done, he had two Bachelor of Arts degrees:  one in Biology, and the other in Religious Studies.  During his summer break between his freshman and sophomore year, Rev. Allen was hired by Rev. Samuel Butcher to work at Tyrand Cooperative Ministries in Randolph County.  However, when Rev. Allen, full of vim and vigor, showed up on Rev. Butcher’s doorstep, Rev. Butcher could not remember hiring him!  Rev. Allen got his first lesson in flexibility, watching Rev. Butcher pull strings, and somehow Rev. Allen had a job for the full summer…and got paid.  Then it was off to Candler School of Theology.

Unfortunately, as Rev. Allen left for Candler, his district superintendent moved and Rev. Allen’s name as a candidate for ministry fell through the cracks.   By chance, some West Virginia Conference folks were visiting Candler and happened to meet Rev. Allen. They asked him, “Where are you in the ordination process?” 

Rev. Allen responded, “What process?” 

A rapid introduction to the ordination process was offered to Rev. Allen and later an appointment to a two-point charge in McDowell County (Keystone UMC and Northfork UMC), which he served for six years.  While serving these churches, Rev. Allen helped lead the community’s fight against the proposed development of a “temporary” nuclear waste dump and the proposed creation of the largest landfill in the United States.   Moving from McDowell County to Charleston, Rev. Allen was appointed to a position with Community Development Outreach Ministries (currently Heart+Hand Ministries).   While serving with CDOM, Rev. Allen met his wife, Laura.

After a few years of marriage to Laura and a brief move to Kentucky for a year and a half, Rev. Allen came back to Charleston and a position working for The Healthy Kids and Family Coalition, a program partner with the WVCC.   Although Rev. Allen had served on the WVCC board of directors off and on for a number of years, this was the first time he was employed by the Council.  It turned out to be a good match!  After the then-Executive Director retired, Rev. Allen was appointed as the Executive Director of WVCC, where he has served since 2012.

Jeff Allen walking the halls of the West Virginia State House (pre-Covid)
photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

As the Executive Director of the WVCC, Rev. Allen is doing what any local church pastor does, but on a state-wide level with a multitude of church leaders.  He helps build relationships between denominations, helps coordinate disaster responses, oversees ministries that help families suffering from substance use disorder, and works with ministries focusing on foster and adoption care, prison ministries, re-entry councils, plus a new program focusing on faith and dementia.  Just like the local church, no two days are the same.  If you are interested in the ministries of the WVCC, here is their homepage.

How we can pray for Rev. Allen:  pray for the ministry of the West Virginia Council of Churches as it works to build relationships that reflect the love of God in Jesus Christ and as it serves as a model of community during our very fragmented time.