Albert Allen, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Newberry, is the new president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He has served as a pastor, missionary, chair of the SCBC Executive Board, and president-elect of the convention.
He graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1986 and practiced law until 1987 when he enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.
His theme for the 2023 annual meeting is “Let’s Go,” and it expresses his heart for missions. The 2022 theme chosen by President Wayne Bray was “Wake Up.”
Allen said, “I have been convicted that as we are being awakened, as we wake up, the next thing is to say, ‘Let’s Go.’ The pandemic shut down most missionary travel. So, my hope is to encourage and challenge pastors and lay people across the state to head out on mission.”
He pointed out that the state convention adopted East Asia for a five-year mission partnership but was unable to go for the first two years due to COVID restrictions. He wants to encourage the SCBC to renew that five-year commitment, beginning in 2023. “East Asia and Southeast Asia have fused together with a new name: ‘APAC,’ ” he said.
“We were overseas for about four years. Under different circumstances, it might have been 40. I sometimes lament that, but I love my church,” Allen said. “Somebody once said to me that maybe God gave me those four years so I could challenge and encourage somebody to become that 40-year person. When more of our pastors and lay leaders in our state convention can go to the mission field and see what is going on and bring that vision back, then we will populate the personnel file of the International Mission Board 10 years down the road,” he said.
After spending several years as a pastor, he and his wife, Kelly, decided God was leading them to the mission field. After preparation, they departed to East Asia.
“While I was thriving, my wife was not thriving. It was a very difficult thing for her. She ran into health issues that were resolved over time — praise God,” he said. “We determined that one term on the field was going to be it, and we moved back home. We worked with missionary training for a year helping those folks get ready to go to our neck of the woods (Southeast Asia). I did a couple of transitional pastorates — and then Newberry First Baptist came calling, and it has been a great relationship.” He has served as Newberry’s senior pastor for the past eight and a half years.
In addition to his work as president, Allen is leading his 191-year-old church to relocate close to Interstate 26. The church has purchased an 18.7-acre tract of land and is in a fundraising program called “Kingdom Advance.” He said, “Three years ago, our church began an amazing journey of discovery and faith. At the intersection of remarkable growth and the limiting nature of our present campus, we began praying, studying, and dreaming. God has provided us with His vision for our future.” He said that phase one of construction will begin as soon as “our financial resources allow.”
One of the major administrative changes that will occur during his tenure as president of the SCBC is the calling of a new executive director-treasurer of the convention. Gary Hollingsworth, the current executive, will retire in April or before. Allen noted, “The search team is following the Spirit of God, and I know God will lead us to another wonderful servant to lead us. We are in great hands until Gary goes, and we will be in great hands once he is gone.”
Allen grew up in Columbia’s First Baptist Church and was baptized by Ed Young in 1972. He and his wife have been married for nearly 30 years and have four adult children, all married — one son and three daughters (including twin girls). “Kelly is on the tail end of breast cancer treatment that has been 13 months long” (which has included surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy infusions).
He shared that his “favorite aspect of ministry is delivering biblical messages with the purpose of engendering life change. I open the bread of life, put the Word of God out there, and then watch to see what God does with it. I cannot do anything with it. I can put it out there, but the Spirit of God is the One who does whatever He desires to do with it.”