Children's Ministries Director Shirley Allen Announces Retirement

December 22, 2021 | Church | Jonathan Russell

Twelve-year-old Shirley Giles looked around her church, marveling at the adults who had accepted her, embraced her, loved her and advocated for her. She noticed the old ladies that would stop to give her an encouraging word and the Sabbath School teachers that would invest in her as a non-Adventist. She noticed the time and energy that they put into caring for her. At that moment, she felt convicted that her life’s work was to do the same — to advocate for those who aren't able to speak up for themselves.    

Years later, after living out that conviction, Shirley Allen (née Giles) announced her retirement in 2021. Her long and faithful career of advocacy, ministry and support for children ended Dec. 31, 2021 when she retired from her position as the Oregon Conference children's ministry director.

Allen's work covered two continents where she served in roles such as teacher, principal, pastor, church ministries director, family ministries director and children’s ministries director. No matter the role or location, her heart for the children has always been her motivation. “Children are worth it,” Allen said. “They’re worth [our] very best. They’re worth all the time and energy we can put into them. Children don’t have a voice. They need us to advocate for them.”   

In her nearly 20 years in Oregon, Allen made her mark and left a legacy of valuing children and empowering leaders. “Pastor Shirley Allen has been a mainstay of Oregon Conference for children’s ministries for many years,” wrote President Dan Linrud. “Her passion for helping children know, love and serve Jesus and others, has inspired others across our field to make a difference for kids in their churches and communities. Shirley’s dedicated leadership has impacted her native South Africa, the Oregon Conference and the North American Division. She is beloved by those who have had the privilege to serve with her in any capacity.”   

Conference church children’s ministries leaders remember her training seminars, borrowing stuffed animals from the “Zoo Room” and the myriad resources and conversations with Allen that inspired them to lead meaningful ministries.

Through Allen's tireless leadership, Gladstone Camp Meeting’s children’s program grew into a coordinated, multisensory program that inspires kids of all ages to love Jesus more deeply. “Camp meeting was always the big thing for me,” remembered Allen. “I love to see the kids all participating and having fun while learning about Jesus. ... The whole vibe of camp meeting has been amazing,” Allen said.   

While Allen doesn’t yet know what retirement will hold for her, two things are certain: She and her husband Dave plan to stay in their home in Happy Valley, Oregon. Wore importantly, she’ll still be advocating for children wherever she goes.  

“She is missed,” said Linrud. “We wish her God’s abundant blessings in this next chapter of retirement.”