504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Legacy and Dunwoody Baptist Church

To the Youth of Dunwoody Baptist Church, Atlanta Georgia

Lately, there has been talk of a reunion of the Dunwoody Baptist Youth Group, of which I was the Minister with Students from 1989 through 1994. So much has changed in the lifetime of these "kids" many of whom have children of their own. All of the youth ministries I have been privileged to lead have been special, but Facebook is blowing up with this particular band of young adults.

Which brings me to my stream of consciousness.

I remember moving to Atlanta with my beautiful bride of now over 27 years and our 11-month old son who is now 22 years old and well over six feet tall. I remember meeting all of you on a fall retreat after being there for less than a week and all of us wondering if we were going to make it. But we did.

You guys were amazing. I got to be with you for some incredible moments. I learned from you and maybe you learned from me. I remember praying with the Meroney family and later baptizing Dennis and Katy together. I remember memorizing Scripture with many of you, particularly during "Student Church." I remember Amy Keels bringing me a broken bottle top as a "Stone in the Jordan" in Detroit indicating her understanding that she was called to ministry (did any of you know that Amy and I co-authored an article by that name in a major youth ministry magazine?).

I remember staff relationships with Dave and Greg and Laine and Wes and Daniel and Dennis and Marjorie--I still tell my youth ministry classes that when we had youth camp, we closed the church because the whole staff went to camp. Somewhere is the picture of all of us in our "Just Do It" t-shirts to prove it. By the way, I lost that one and about 30 years worth of youth camp t-shirts when my house flooded in Hurricane Katrina. Probably best as over the years they must have shrunk because they wouldn't stretch over my new and expanded physique.

I remember Kim McNamara challenging me to be better as she brought friends. I remember the Power Source Band with Pete (sorry Pierre) Kimball and Seth Remaley and Darren Pyle and Adam Jones and my three chords and a capo which was as close to being in a band as I ever got. I remember youth week, with over 100 students teaching the Bible to youth, adult and children's classes. I remember youth camp and Disciple Now, mission trip to New Orleans, emergency room in Panama City, being kicked out of go-cart tracks in Branson and creating fire out of the exhaust pipe of the rented U-Haul truck in San Diego.

I remember After Hours and somebody's famous pizza dip. I remember Rich Mullins at Fall Retreat. I remember Toccoa Assembly, combining with fellow youth minister Andy Stanley for another fall retreat (with Louie Giglio speaking). I remember epic football games (no flag football for us, no sir-ee--Chris Edgar, I bear scars today...). I remember revival with Rick Stanley, hiking the Appalachian trail, and night skiing at Boone, whitewater rafting on the Ocoee. I will never forget the moving conversations with Greg Mann, Todd Crowder, Jenny Edgar, Todd Copper, and so many others as you understood that God did care what happened with your life. I remember the line dance we had at a DNow with many of my youth ministry friends wondering if I would get fired. I remember Pepto busses.

I remember Joel Vestal, Tom Riley, Joe Beckler and Mike Thomas, in the same Disciple Now home, trying to ask questions that Stan Greene couldn't answer. All of you are still in ministry along with Amy Keels, Mark Knight, Elizabeth Atkins, Kevin Miller, Adam Jones, Jimmy Carter (who wrote a book based on his testimony!), Matt Ferguson and Lydia Cotten--please forgive me if I forgot you. I remember thinking Pritchett Cotten was amazingly creative and an authentic friend. I remember Jessica times two (Gray and Handley) and their insightful questions. I remember Eugene Kim's leadership and the laughter of Dee Dee Lindsey, Luisa Stone, Liesl Allen, Matt Redd, Rich Butler, Charlie Moore, Missy Lindsey, and the quiet confidence of Russell Bailey, JT Ware, and Bret Wingfield. I remember the compassion of Cheri Smith (who now gets to practice it on her triplets). I remember how far Roy David Williams, Matt Russell and Derek Jackson could hit a golf ball.

I remember adults--Joy and Winfred, Sam and Bev, Bob, Nancy, Billy, Barbara, Jim, Margie, Betty and Marty (who would have thought that Marty would be the chairman of the Board of Trustees at a pretty major college!); John, Bev and Jerry, Norman, Steve, and a host of others. I remember Jenny, and Meredith and Cheryl and Blair and Susanna and Heidi, generally involved in some form of mischief. I remember Matt and Kevin and Clay and Danny and chicken biscuits at Hickory House.

I still grieve thinking about "my" students who died before their time--Ben Eberbaugh, Mike Flake, Stephanie Jackson. I remember helping with weddings for so many of these incredible young adults. I get sad when I hear of marriages that didn't work out, I sigh and smile when I see on facebook how wonderfully successful you are as adults.

Which brings me to the point of this little stroll down memory lane. In every ministry I have been privileged to lead, including the seventeen years teaching at seminary, I have memories of people, places, and opportunities that make me smile and know that God is in the business of legacy. Paul told Timothy to remember the things he had learned and the people he learned them from because God is linking generation after generation with His message of grace and His plan of discipleship.

I am embarrassed that I didn't mention every single one of you as you all I would love to hear the stories of how God continues to work in your lives. If the hope you once had has grown a little weary, please be encouraged. God still comforts, teaches, provides, corrects, communicates. I have been so blessed to have been along for the ride in the early '90s. I look forward to the reunion. Continue to leave a legacy!


  1. Dearest Allen and the Jackson family.... its ok that you don't always remember us... We remember you and Judy. I remember you even asked the Wednesday Power source to help give you name of your new baby....Your family has left an irreplaceable spot in our lives.

    All the best...

    Dave Lo

  2. Thanks for intentionally investing in the lives of young people. Michael adored you--you'll never know the impact you made in his life. I thank God for you!

  3. We remember you...and how you always and so genuinely cared for us. -ashley brooks

  4. Allen,

    You have no idea what a tremendous blessing you have been in my life. You led through becoming a new Christian, guiding me when my dad died, marrying Greg and me (not to mention all those years Greg and I were in youth group together)...

    You were a strong foundation in my life, and I am forever grateful that God put you and Judi and your family in my path.

    I am so thankful to God for you.

    Susanna Mann

  5. I remember when your 12 string Ovation acoustic guitar melted in the back of your car. We went around and collected enough money to get you a new Takamine. :-) Allen, God bless you and Judy and thank you for imparting faith and speaking truth into our lives. -Stephen Wareham

  6. Allen - you and Judy helped be to become the person that I am. All of the memories are so special, and I'm so thankful for every single one of them!

    Susan (Cox) Westhof

  7. Hey Allen!

    What a great trip down memory lane! That Fall Retreat with Rich Mullins was one of my favorite memories. He was an amazing soul.

    I'm so glad you felt like my questions were insightful rather than annoying! And some things never change - I still continue to question everything, except God's presence in my life. :)

    I was asked recently who was the most important and influential person to me when I was younger, and without hesitation I said it was you. You were so important to me since you compassionately and gracefully helped me through the hardest time in my life. I was scared and confused, and you carefully lead me to the Light. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

    I'm so grateful for you, Judi, and everyone who was a part of the DBC Youth Ministry. I am the person that I am today - a person that I am very proud to be - because of all of you.

    With big hugs and lots of love,
    Jessica Handley

  8. Allen,
    It is so interesting to read all the comments here and on Facebook. When I think back on our youth group, I realize it was the place where I felt the most like myself - who I was and who I wanted to be. I try to explain what our group was like to other people, and I find there are not words to explain how special and blessed we were. The leadership and friendship given by you and Judi led so many of us into a lasting and strong relationship with Jesus. You showed us how to do ministry.
    I teach high schoolers every day, and I would like to think that I have the same positive impact on their lives as you both had on ours. And I have been leading worship in some form - musically or through drama for 15 years now. I know that you (and Dave Briley) started me on that path. You trusted me to help lead worship for Powersource. It taught me so much - about worship, God, and myself.
    You have always been one of my favorite people and will always have a special place in my memories and heart. I hope to see you soon!
    Melissa (Missy Lindsey) Hornsby