Military or Ministry?
Allin dreamed in high school of attending West Point. He was sensitive to his family’s modest means and was aware of the need to attend college with scholarship assistance. He had seen two movies featuring West Point, and was drawn to the formality of uniformed service. Until the rector of St. John’s, whom Allin admired, asked him to consider the University of the South, Allin had not given Sewanee any thought. He had visited the school once with a friend and loved the Tennessee mountain-top campus but knew nothing else about it. His rector thought Allin could use a Sewanee education as an entry to the ordained ministry. In Jack’s mind, however, ministers wore string ties and long faces, and he didn’t see himself fitting that mold. Undaunted, his rector encouraged him to apply for a scholarship, which Allin received. He found himself at the University of the South after graduation from Helena High.
Allin attended both college and seminary at the University of the South and was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1943 and a Master of Divinity in 1945. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1944 and to the priesthood in 1945, both conferred by Bishop R. Bland Mitchell in the Diocese of Arkansas. In seeking an early ordination to the diaconate, Allin hoped to qualify for a Navy chaplaincy and officer’s training school before being drafted during World War II. In the end, Allin was sworn in but never received his final draft orders. At the request of the Vice Chancellor of Sewanee, he came close to accepting a position as liaison to the Navy, but Bishop Mitchell had other plans for him in Conway, Arkansas.