A Familiar Outsider
On Sundays during his time at All Saints’ school, Allin took a group of students to Holy Trinity in Vicksburg where he came to know the rector, Robert M. Allen. Jack Allin eagerly volunteered to assist Allen on Sundays and was eventually placed in charge of the Christian education program for the congregation. At that time, Bob Allen was also President of the Diocesan Standing Committee and, having been impressed with Allin’s work ethic, put his name into the running for the Mississippi bishop coadjutor election.
Allin recalled that when Mississippi was searching for a coadjutor, some clergy and lay leaders expressed the desire to elect someone from the outside, and he happened to fall into that category. He was relatively new to the state and canonically still resident with the Diocese of Louisiana during his time at All Saints’ College. Allin was not completely unknown in Mississippi. He had made a name for himself in local parish ministry and achieved wide name recognition as headmaster of All Saints’ school, where he increased enrollment and community involvement. Allin had forged a key relationship with Bob Allen and with an old Arkansas connection to Mississippi’s Bishop Duncan Gray Sr.
Allin’s use of his Church connections was not an unusual way to advance one’s career in the ordained ministry. Historically, the process resulted in an uneven distribution of benefits: it promoted institutional continuity and provided for ministerial care and intimacy, but it also resulted in favoritism and excluded from leadership those who were not well networked.
Inequitable processes aside, Allin’s recruitment was based on a record of giving full commitment to ministerial challenges, moderation and openness to others, and plain hard work – assets that were widely recognized as the foundation for his rise to leadership in Mississippi. On the opening day of the school year at All Saints’ in August 1961, Allin received a call from Bob Allen that he had been elected bishop coadjutor of Mississippi. He and his family moved to Jackson in January 1962 where he assisted Bishop Duncan M. Gray Sr. with duties such as visitations, administrative matters, and full responsibility for interviewing candidates for holy orders and pastoral care of seminarians. As coadjutor with the right of succession, Allin entered a period of transitional training under Bishop Gray for translation to the post of diocesan bishop.