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Leaving a Legacy of Love: Beloved FBC children's minister Susan Allen retiring

Susan Allen, Minister of Children at First Baptist Church Statesboro for 25 years, has announced she will retire in early March. She leaves behind a robust, faith-filled children's program and a legacy of love.
Susan Allen at FBC Statesboro

Susan Allen, Minister of Children at First Baptist Church Statesboro, has announced her retirement after 25 years of service. 

Allen, a Statesboro native, had a circuitous route that ultimately led her back to the place where she would spend a quarter of a century pouring into the lives of young children in the community. 

"I actually was born here in Statesboro," Allen explains. "My parents were living here when I was born and I lived here until I was about five years old. My father had been ordained as a minister and, from that point on, we had lived in various places in the state."

Allen returned to the area in 1999 when she and her husband were called to serve at First Baptist Church Statesboro, approximately 35 to 40 years after she had first left. Allen was hired on as Minister to Children and her husband, Ricky, was hired as Minister of Education. Ricky retired three years ago, but has been keeping active by leading the Senior Adult Ministry. February 13th was his official last day with the group. The couple looks forward to retirement together and the chance to spend more time with one another, family, and friends.

Ricky & Susan Allen at FBC

When Allen stepped into her current role, she was prepared. She had served in various capacities at churches in Bibb County, and developed in her mind what would become of the much loved children's program at FBC Statesboro.   

"In my early years, I served as Minister of Education and Minister of Youth in a couple of churches, and served as Minister of Children at another church, Older Children's Director at a church in Macon. We served several churches in Macon," Allen says. "Then I served with the Georgia Baptist Convention Women's Missionary Union as their consultant for children's programs for two or three years, and I was there when we were called to come here."

"It's been a great experience. It's been a unique experience in that my husband and I could both come and serve on a church staff. Not many couples have that opportunity for both the husband and wife to serve at the same church, so that was one of the unique joys of our ministry here . . . So we have in many ways served together and supported each other's ministries," Allen says.

Allen explains the couple's two daughters, April and Ashley, were teenagers when the family relocated back to Bulloch County, and she and her husband are grateful that the girls, now grown with families of their own, got to finish high school here in Statesboro. 

"We are in an entirely new journey of life now, which is a large reason for retirement, so we can spend more time with grandchildren."

Ricky & Susan with their daughters and their families in 2015. Lori Grice Photography

"It's been great to be a part of this ministry. In my early years, we actually built the children's building that did not exist earlier, so I had the joy of helping to design that building and have a place that was uniquely designed for the needs of children and that made a real difference in our ministry when the church made the huge commitment to provide a place that would meet the specific needs of children," Allen says. "That really, I think, in many ways shaped our ministry."

Allen is grateful for the more than 100 weekly volunteers who help facilitate the children's ministry program at FBC Statesboro. "They really make it happen," Allen explains. "It's been exciting to be able to partner with them." 

In addition to Sunday school and Wednesday night children's programming, the Vacation Bible School has grown exponentially over the years, as well as the summer camp experiences that Allen and her team have cultivated and offered young followers of Christ. 

"We just have incredible leadership who give of themselves and really make all of that happen," Allen says. "I've had the opportunity to kind of help bring that together and tie it all together, and I've watched God do great work in that area."

Allen has worked with countless families over the years and has enjoyed welcoming new babies into the church community by bringing gifts and praying over them. She considers herself fortunate to see this experience come full circle. "Since I've been here for 25 years, some of those babies now are leaders in kids' ministry," she marvels. 

"Mrs. Susan" is known for welcoming even the youngest new members of FBC

Allen says recently she was watching as the moms and dads came in and relished the generational joy of serving multiple members of families. "So many of them I had in my children's ministry when they were children, and now they're bringing their children. That's the joy of a long ministry in a place. We've been blessed to be able to stay here for those years and see that come to fruition."

Allen has words of confidence and comfort for those faithful members who have only known hers as the face of children's ministry at FBC Statesboro. She says the future of the program is very bright and there is no need to worry what will happen when she retires in March. Her successors assure her their goal is to make her proud. 

"The future of the program is in great hands. I have spent a lot of my time and energy developing leadership and turning that leadership over to them, allowing them to be the true leaders of whatever it is that they lead, whether it be Sunday school or Wednesday night activities or Vacation Bible School, and pouring into those leaders so that they would be ready; it is their ministry, not mine. So they are ready; I don't have any qualms," Allen says. 

For now, Allen is continuing to serve and preparing those who will transition with practical items such as important upcoming dates and plans. She admits she has not permitted herself to think of the time when she will have to say goodbye.

Susan enjoying VBS in 2022. Casey Hurst

"Many of these leaders I have served with for the entire 25 years," Allen says wistfully. "And then, of course, the families. I have not allowed myself to think a lot about the fact that I won't be with them on a regular basis."

This beloved figure, who has meant so much to so many, will remain right here in Bulloch County for the foreseeable future. 

"We will still be in the community; we are not leaving the community of Statesboro," Allen posits. "This is home."