Dr. Patrick Allen [Photo: Nigel Coke/WIU/IAD]
According to Mark A. Kellner, News Editor, Adventist Review (www.adventistreview.com ), Dr. Patrick Allen, president of the church's West Indies Union, is expected to take office as Jamaica's sixth Governor General in late February. Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced his appointment in a Parliament session on January 13, 2009.
"It is astounding and I don't think I can wrap my head around it, and I'm not sure what the Lord is doing here, but He has some Joseph and Daniel role for me to perform," Allen told Adventist Review in a telephone interview the same day from Freeport, Bahamas, where he was helping to conduct an audit. "I'm just praying about it and making myself available for God to use me in whatever way He chooses best."
Kellner reports that Allen will resign his present position as West Indies Union President, and a special executive session will be held February 10 to name a successor, said Israel Leito, Inter-American Division president.
"The church serves the community and we can do this from within the chuch organization or as individuals in other activities," Leito said in a statement.
"The appointment of Dr. Allen as Governor General of Jamaica is something historic in Jamaica and the world field. As far as memory goes, this [appointment of an Adventist pastor as a Governor General] has never happened before. But the Inter-American Division is so pleased that one of our leaders through the high standing of the church, has reached such a distinction that he could be considered for such a position," said Leito.
Leito added: "We wish Dr. Allen all the best, realizing the serious challenges he will have -- to be the leader with non-political authority but still in leadership position for a whole nation. The church will always be praying for him in this position."
Orville Parchment, assistant to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said the world church leadership was happy at the news.
"On behalf of Pastor Jan Paulsen, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and our worldwide church family, we congratulate Pastor Allen on his new appointment. We pray for God's continued blessing as he carries out his new civic responsibilities," he said.
Allen, who turns 58 on Feb. 7, replaces Sir Kenneth Hall, who was appointed Governor General in February of 2006, and who reportedly resigned for health reasons. Ironically, Sir Kenneth presented Allen with the Order of Distinction on the country's 2006 Heroes Day for his contribution to the church and religion in Jamaica.
Kellner says that according to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), the Governor General "represents the Queen on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, the presentation of honors and military parades."
Jamaica's constitution gives the position additional powers, the JIS reported, including "appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, in proroguing [dissolving] Parliament and so on, but only in [a] few cases is he empowered to act entirely on his own discretion. The Governor-General also exercises the prerogative of mercy on behalf of the Queen" including "the power to grant [a] pardon to any person who has been sentenced to death."
Kellner reports that Golding, who has held the Prime Minister's office since November 2007, is married to Lorna, a Seventh-day Adventist. The Goldings are regular attendees at Adventist worship services. Allen said the church's work to improve life in Jamaica brought his name to the leader's attention.
Allen was educated at Moneague Teachers College in Jamaica, and church-owned Andrews University, where he studied for undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision, a Masters degree in Systematic Theology, and a Bachelors degree in History and Religion.
He is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was elected to the position of President of West Indies Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in October 2000 and re-elected in 2005.
Prior to that, Allen served in many other posts within and outside of the Adventist Church. He served as President of Central Jamaica Conference, Director of Education and Family Life at West Indies Union Conference, and District Pastor. As a trained teacher he also served as principal of Schools, and Adjunct Professor at West Indies College, which is now Northern Caribbean University. Allen currently chairs NCU's board of trustees.