Canon Allen (1965)

JC Jack Carbutt
CA Canon Allen (Tom)

JC: Ladies and gentlemen, at this time it is my pleasure, for the next few minutes to interview a gentlemen that we have interviewed quite a many, many times around CKPG and Prince George and Iím sure that he has been on television many times too since we have inaugurated tv here. Right now, Canon T.D.R. Allen and Canon Allen this is hard for me to get used to because I usually call you Tom, but Canon Allen, from here on in I will refer to you as Tom, is that all right?

CA: Oh thatís good, you just took the words out of my mouth Jack.

JC: Fine, and you are leaving us, unfortunately Tom, but, when?

CA: On Monday sometime, Jack.

JC: MarchÖ?

CA: On Monday, this coming March.

JC: Yes, I see. And you are leaving for what parish?

CA: Iím leaving for, interestingly enough Jack, itís the old cathedral church for the whole southern part of the province, the Anglican Cathedral of Holy Trinity in New Westminster and just (unintelligible) years ago it celebrated its centennial. And so thereís a tremendous history there and itís still a very beautiful church.

JC: Going back to the history, you have created something to last fourteen and a half years yourself Tom right here in the City of Prince George and district and following communities too. First of all, may I just ask you, the first sermon that you preached here in the City of Prince George. Do you remember it by any chance?

CA: I can still remember the text Jack because I had plenty to say and I yet I was still exercising some aftermath of military discipline.

JC: Ladies and gentlemen, this has not been rehearsed at all, has it?

CA: No, no. But I do, I remember the text, the words of our Lord and among you is one who dost serve.

JC: When you were, it is posted? Now you were talking about military service but, in the church, how are you just given the diocese yourself or what?

CA: The parish? No, what happens Jack is that we still love to believe, and I do, that something happens through man which is Godís calling. And a sequence of events if you donít sort of try too much for yourself to push the hand of God, that he will make his way known. And you do get called. Now, I didnít. I had not met anybody in New Westminster. I certainly didnít even know where the church was, Iíd never seen it before, and yet all of the sudden out of the blue Iím asked very seriously to consider taking this incumbency and so I have to think to myself, is this God speaking? And then one thing leads to another, doors close and other ones open and one becomes quite satisfied, that because one hasnít been seeking, yet one has been called.

JC: When you were called to Prince George, Tom, and you arrived here, what were your first impressions? Now, youíre not going to be too far away from us, you know, in fact youíll be able to hear us in Westminster right now.

CA: Yes, I shall try.

JC: So, watch what you might say will you? When you were called here, though Tom, what were your first impressions of the City of Prince George?

CA: My first impressions, Jack, were pretty, I was going to say traumaticÖ

JC: Thatís a good word.

CA: Because we were looking for things that we had some good reason to have a right to find and they were conspicuous by their absence. And my dear wife and I, she was my bride at the time, both decided that it was people that make a community or make a church, and so we stayed here because there is a church where there are people.

JC: There is one thing, Tom, that just before we went on with this interview we did mention about your marriage, you said it was a very fast courtship, but you said, could I let you quote the other words?

CA: It was rapid, Jack, it wasnít fast.

JC: Rapid, rapid.

CA: That could be misconstrued.

JC: Yes it could. But you also said, ďDo not doÖĒ

CA: Oh yes, I donít advise other people to do what I said do, or what I say. I think courtship should be long, mine was short.

JC: I think itís wonderful. Where were you married, if I might ask?

CA: In the church which I was instrumental, by the grace of God, in building, in Moosejaw.

JC: In Moosejaw.

CA: And then I took their sweetest girl, and so of course I had to get out.

JC: I love that. You were born where, please, Tom?

CA: In Kelowna.

JC: In Kelowna. And what brought you into the ministry?

CA: Well Jack, it was always, it was always my idea. I donít know where I got it from.

JC: Was your father a minister?

CA: No, he was not. He was a soldier and then something else after. He went that far. But I can remember my grandmother when I was a wee tiny boy teaching me (unintelligible) which was supposed to be Greek. Iím not sure that I remember much more of it now since being through college.

JC: But you, you really felt this, did you, all through, from what year? Have you any recollection of the year?

CA: My mother had a bit of recollection (unintelligible) and she said six years old.

JC: Is that right?

CA: And I donít even know how it could have been.

JC: How long did you spend in the ministry? That is, in college?

CA: Well, I came out of the army and into college in 1938. I know Iím giving away my age.

JC: Well, weíre not trying toÖ

CA: To say that life begins at fiftyÖ

JC: Youíre right, I can tell you that, yes.

CA: And then, I, so I did the four-year course, which was supposed to be the Oxford curriculum, the Oxford University curriculum.

JC: Is it tougher now?

CA: Oh I think so. Everything is.

JC: Is that why thereís not maybe so many young people going into it, Tom?

CA: No, I donít think so. I think in a proportion of population Jack, it could even be that there are more who are going into the sacred ministry because we are faced, in these days as you will know with ultimate concerns to use Paul Tivicís (phonetic spelling) words, and a good many of us are beginning to see that there must be something beyond, to even justify what we have to go through here and now.

JC: Now, Tom, going just a little further from that. A ministerís life actually, I am not talking about your own denomination, but a ministerís life is not all roses is it?

CA: No.

JC: You work hard.

CA: Yes.

JC: And we realize what you have done here, and we realize also that you worked yourself right down to a rest by doctorís orders, but, Tom, is that because you were so devoted to it yourself, where some ministers may, Iím not taking anything away from any denomination or any minister, and some ministers have a little different outlook and they say well we can only do so much, where you, and maybe another dozen will just put that little extra out.

CA: I think, Jack, that perhaps the most accurate way to answer that, and I appreciate some of the gracious words which you say and also suggest Jack, would be to say that the father is the head of the family. And that in each household the circumstances in that family and in that house are different. And some fathers are happy and lucky, they have healthy children, they have no domestic problems, they have no financial worries. The fabric of the house itself is good. Other fathers have got anxieties, have got worries and they can be overburdened, and so I would think that each parish priest or minister probably adjusts himself and makes himself part of the family and meets their particular needs. But I do think this: I think that every true and faithful minister of the gospel must have as it were, if he was to have a motto. That wasnít sort of even a text. It might be something like this, that you cannot expect to follow the crucified without being nailed.

JC: Now Iím going to, I paused there just for a moment, but Iím going to take it a little further now, if I may. Could you, you do not have to answer this question Tom, but could you tell us the most laughable thing in your career as a minister? Not the sorrowful thing, I donít want, something that maybe happened, maybe not to you, is there anything that just crops up in your mind? Is there anything in a service like, that would have happened that shouldnít have happened.

CA: Well, Jack, those sort of situations are legion because they happen nearly every day.

JC: Heís got me beat here.

CA: And what happens that a thing that would be hilarious for me, because Iíve already been so much involved in a person and be part of this thing, that it wouldnít sound funny to somebody else.

JC: Somebody else. You know this is what we keep trying to tell the announcers, Tom, thank you very, very much, weíre going to use, going to take this right out of the tape and use this every time an announcer thinks somethingís funny and nobody else knows anything about it.

CA: Yeah.

JC: We got something out of this. Thank you very much. Now Tom, over the fourteen years, and a half, that you have been here and accomplished so, so very, very much, you came to a church that was well, you had desires when you saw it didnít you?

CA: Yes.

JC: You have now brought that realization through your congregation and yourself into a very wonderful Oedipus. What, on the opening day, were your own particular thoughts?

CA: Well, my own thoughts on the opening day, you mean of this beautiful new church that we have here?

JC: Thatís right, yes.

CA: Well I was torn between two things. One was this, that I knew that because the people here deserved and needed a beautiful house of prayer as well as something that would belong to the whole community, that the whole community could say, ďLook at this, this is a lovely thing that symbolizes and represents the spiritual issues of life, planted right smack in the very center of the liveliness of this growing and young and beautiful city.Ē So there was one emotion. And then the other one was that I was afraid and my fears have been (unintelligible) something since. But I was afraid that the church itself was so beautiful that people might be carried away by its earthly beauty rather than of its heavenly purpose. But I think that God in His love and mercy, is quite capable is taking care of His church. Itís not mine.

JC: Canon Allen, I do not know just exactly how much time we might have left here, but Iím going to ask you a question. And the question is, what is wrong with religion today?

CA: Well Jack, I believe that the thing that really is wrong with religion today is that it is named and called and branded as religion and religion is as such a completely outmoded concept. The whole image doesnít belong anymore.

JC: What is right with religion today?

CA: I would say that what is right with religion today is what one can see in it that relates to contemporary need and supplies that need and respects all the enlightenment of man today, philosophically and scientifically and in the arts.

JC: Canon Allen, I want to thank you very, very much for just taking the time out for this interview, which we will keep, by the way, and not only run once, but we have a policy now of keeping things for a number of years and then running them in five and ten yearsí time, and I am sure that if you are ever up here in the next five years, which Iím sure you will be, that when youíre here, you will drop in, I know, and weíll run it at that time too, and thank you very, very much Canon Allen for the tremendous job you have done on the way I see it, on our program nightly, for, what? Eleven and a half years it is now?

CA: About twelve.

JC: Yes, and weíve appreciated it and I know that the listening public has too. The only one regret that I have is that we have just gone 10,000 watts and now youíre going to leave us, when you could have covered the United States and most portions of British Columbia. But we sincerely hope that you will be able to take up some of the air ministry down in Westminster and congratulations to you for your new appointment and thank you very much Canon Allen.

CA: Thank you Jack, thank you Jack.