Born Essendon Victoria 12/11/1932, died Mornington Victoria 19/12/2014
Compiled by Dr David Allen
Ken, an ordained Uniting Church minister, spent the majority of his working life in chaplaincy positions in Uniting Church schools. His legacy will be those students whom he inspired to love God, and show care and compassion for others.
Ken was the third of four children born to Elsie and Jack Allen. The family moved to Hampton where Ken attended Brighton Tech, leaving school at 15 to be an apprentice carpenter. He was also involved in all facets of life at Hampton Methodist Church including the tennis, football and cricket teams. His attendance at Mr. Roy Quirk’s Bible class on a Sunday morning and the ministry of Rev. Harold Freeman were important influences in his Christian growth and commitment.
He made a decision to candidate for the ministry after attending an Easter church camp in Anglesea. He went to night school to gain his matriculation for university entrance. After a year at Otira, the Home Mission College in Kew, he went on to Melbourne University to obtain his Arts degree. During this time he married Helen Donnell whom he’d met at the Hampton Methodist Church. Ken’s trade skills enabled him to support his family while studying.
Ken’s first parish appointment was Mathoura, just north of Echuca in 1966. He preached at four churches each Sunday, starting at Bunnaloo, and then onto Womboota. He would then have lunch with one of the parishioner families. The afternoon continued with worship at Thyra, then an evening service at Mathoura. The round trip was 100 miles, and he’d frequently take the whole family on these Sunday excursions.
Ken and family spent a very happy three years in Mathoura and strong friendships were forged. Ken’s mission since his calling, however, was to foster young people with a belief in Christianity that was relevant to everyday life. While serving at Mathoura, he undertook teacher training at the University of New England in Armadale.
Ken’s first school appointment was as Assistant Chaplain at Haileybury College, Keysborough, to Rev Frank Elmore. To give credibility to his teaching of Religious Education, he taught matriculation politics and biblical studies. He took morning assemblies, evening services at the boarding house, coached sporting teams and became a scout leader for the Haileybury Scout Troop. Ken also introduced Sunday worship services at the school for local families in the Keysborough region. Ken continued his studies, gaining a Bachelor of Education at Monash University.
In 1976, Ken was appointed chaplain at Prince Alfred College, a Methodist boys’ school in Adelaide. Ken was very busy with pastoral care, morning assemblies, teaching Religious Studies, taking Sunday services for the school boarders, and officiating at many weddings for school families at the beautiful school chapel. He continued with sports supervision, becoming an accredited hockey coach. Ken and family were also members of the Tusmore Memorial Uniting Church.
In 1983, Ken moved to St Leonard’s College in Brighton, Victoria, where he served as chaplain until retirement in 1994. He was affectionately referred to as ‘Rev’ by both staff and students, and on one Muck Up Day, the students decorated his office with scores of Rev Milk cartons!
He had a long and happy association with staff and students, which continued into retirement. He was often wondering about the impact he made in equipping students with Christian faith values. He was delighted to receive many letters on his retirement from former students one of which stated:
“I wanted to write this letter to show my deepest thanks for the leadership you have shown. Your leadership through prayers and talks has helped me realize the important things in life. I understand the importance of giving to others willingly and the amazing difference and comfort you feel in your life when you have God…. I know you were a big part in that and I wouldn’t let you leave without letting you know.”
Ken retired to McCrae where he was able to indulge his love of gardening. Ken and Helen joined in with the Dromana Uniting Church and he was a foundation member of the Red Hill Probus club. In retirement Ken and Helen enjoyed travelling. Having three children and 10 grandchildren scattered throughout various states and countries ensured they were busy keeping track of their family.
In 2005, Ken and Helen downsized to a unit in Mornington and became active members of St Mark’s Uniting Church. In his last illness, Ken found great support in the prayers and friendship of the St Marks Congregation, and the sustaining pastoral care of its minister, Rev John Haig.
Ken Allen will be remembered as a builder, not only of houses and objects, but a builder of communities and organisations, a builder of individuals and families. He was greatly loved.