Saturday, August 25, 2012

Allen Jay

Josh Brown, who edited the Autobiography of Allen Jay, spoke at Springfield Friends Meeting for their memorial association's annual meeting last weekend.

Josh is a pastor at West Richmond Friends Meeting in Richmond, Indiana, one of the meetings Allen Jay helped found. Before he spoke, Josh played on a dulcimer he made himself. That was followed by a short period of open worship (silence), then Josh read scripture from 1 John 1:1-9.

Allen Jay came to North Carolina to help Friends after the Civil War, help that encouraged them to stay in the area (where many of us are to this day) rather than leave all the schools, meetings, and generations of Quaker influence behind in the northward migration.

I didn't know that Allen was born with a cleft palate, which made talking difficult. Because he felt called as a minister, he worked on his speech and preached despite his discomfort and embarrassment — talk about perserverance!

Josh said, "His autobiography is almost a prayer journal."

Allen Jay was so respected, he helped smooth the way between young Friends who attended a revival at Trinity College and older Quakers who thought such things were unacceptable. Allen attended the revival to see what was going on, and greeted the young Friends there. After one meeting, a young lady who had been "saved" was afraid to go home. Allen went with her and told her father, "Thy child left home unsaved. She now returns a child of Christ, and in his name I ask thee to receive her." The girl wept, the family accepted her, and some of them "accepted the Saviour" as well. 

Allen Jay's house still stands across the street from Springfield Friends. It was a stop along the Underground Railroad, with a secret hiding place for escaping slaves.

The house is currently used by the Friends Emergency Material Assistance Program, where faithful volunteers pack emergency relief kits and sew for children around the world.

Kevin Harris mentions Allen's adventures in this post about the Underground Railroad:

Underground | Arbor Familiae
Allen and his parents helped many, many slaves escape in this way. My Jay ancestors who lived in Wayne County, Indiana probably did the same. In a talk about the Underground Railroad that I went to a few weeks ago, ...

Update: If you'd like to learn more about Allen Jay, you can order the book through the affliliate link above or here: Autobiography of Allen Jay.

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