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Bulloch County Black History Month 2024
Mother, daughter follow similar path
Minister Alicia Allen Booker, left, is shown with her mother, Evangelist Juanita Staten Allen.

Someone once said, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.” For the most part, truer words have never been spoken.  

One woman who knows how to wrap her love around others like a comfy blanket is Evangelist Juanita Staten Allen.  The mother of three is known for the nurturing spirit she extends to many. Her children: Veda Coleman Wright (Dennis), Alicia Allen Booker (Miguel), and Rashad Al’Jamal Allen are now successful adults who have, all their lives, experienced the bond that transcends time, trials, and tribulations. Married for 54 years to Deacon Robert “Larry” Allen, Evangelist Allen is a transplant from Alma, Georgia where she was reared by loving parents, Isaiah Staten Sr. and Sirlina Holloway Staten.

“My dad had a heart condition and there were 19 of us living under one roof. The community helped us a great deal; neighbors shared what they had with us,” Juanita Allen said. 

In spite of our circumstances, Mama encouraged us to look on the bright side. She’d say, ‘Children, you are blessed. There is always someone who is worse off than you are.’ That lesson sticks with me; I share and give with much joy. My blessing is to see other people happy.” 

Prior to assuming the position of Evangelist at Original First African Baptist Church, Allen is celebrated for unsolicited delivery of deliciously hearty homemade soups and meals. She is also known for coordinating spiritual renewal retreats to Florida for women, working with the Prison Ministry, Ogeechee Area Hospice, and serving as core group leader for Community Bible Study, Bible study teacher, and assisting the pastor as needed. 

As a retired school counselor, Allen has a heart and passion for children. 

“I’ve always been an advocate for the vulnerable,” she said. “If a child was sent to my office because they were having a problem in the classroom, I listened and helped find a solution. Sometimes a child just needs to know that someone genuinely cares about them.”  

Allen thanks God for pioneers in education who inspired and encouraged her during high school: Garnell Faulk, James E. Deen, and Audrey M. Roberson. Post-secondary influencers were Annie Russell, Rev. Bennie Brinson, Dr.’s Charles and Lella Bonds, Evelyn Anderson, James Henry and Dale Wilkerson. 

Allen was in the first graduating class of East Georgia College in 1973, attended Georgia Southern to earn teaching certification, master’s, and education specialist in Elementary Education and Counseling Education.

“One of my greatest joys, while teaching, was working with students who were below grade level,” she said. “After a while, these students were soon out-performing those who were in the classroom, which boosted their self-esteem.

During her many years of teaching in Bulloch and Jenkins County, Allen has been named Mattie Lively Teacher of the Year, taught summer school, conducted Parent Liaison Workshops, tutored countless students, taught reading and vocabulary in the GSU Upward Bound program and served as a GSU Eagle Wing Parent. Allen is also a 2006 recipient of a Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award. 

The prayers and guidance of parents, her relationship with God and intense love for service is what led Allen into the ministry. She advises that her spiritual journey was enhanced by religious workshops, classes, and conferences, matriarchs of Original First African Baptist Church, Minister Jackie Whitney, Bishop and Pastor Gwen Jones, Rev. Mary Odom Lee, Pastors Douglas and Sherrell Compton, Sally Finch, Pastor Randy Watts, and Nancy Waters and the Community Bible Class for Women.

“I am continually praying and seeking God for His plan, purpose and direction for me,” Allen said.

The "matrilineal bond”, the mother-daughter connection, is a complex tapestry woven with threads of love and devotion. If properly crafted, those strands shape attitudes, beliefs, habits, rituals, goals and personalities. 

“Once you understand who you belong to it leads to understanding who you are and that you have an important role in God’s Kingdom. This knowledge is liberating and allows you to live your life with purpose,” explains Minister Alicia Allen Booker, the like-minded daughter of Evangelist Allen. 

A mother of three, Booker is employed with the Department of Defense, United States Air Force as an Acquisition Program Manager. She is married to Miguel Booker who is a government contractor, Senior Logistics Manager. They are members of New Life International Worship Center in Crestview, Florida where they both serve as Sunday School Superintendents.  

“When I moved to Florida, Pastor Sherrell Compton became my spiritual mother,” Booker said. “She helped me to identify and grow in my spiritual gifts. I encourage people to find a spiritual mentor, someone who embodies Godly principles and has a strong faith walk.”

Born in Alma, Georgia, but reared in Statesboro, Booker attended local schools and is a 1988 graduate of Statesboro High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Georgia Southern University and Masters in HealthCare Management from the University of Phoenix. 

Booker made history by becoming the first African American news reporter and anchor for Northland Cable News. Years later, she would become the first African American president of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce. Booker’s strong foundation in communications has allowed for diverse career assignments. 

“I was the child who received the comment ‘talks too much’ on progress reports in elementary school, however strong communication skills have proven to be beneficial in both my career and my ministry,” she said.

Booker had a love for spiritual matters and church at an early age. As a child, she spent summers with her grandparents where she would attend revivals and help “Papa” carry cups for the cooler, take nature walks with her grandmother, Lizzy, and discuss God’s creations. 

Booker recalls a prayer that inspired her to enter the ministry, “Lord, give me a heart for your people, help me see them as you do’ and one day He answered that prayer. He gave me agape love for my fellow man and a passion to use my voice to tell of His goodness and draw others to know Him.”  

In spite of the many miles that separate them, Booker notes that she and her mother’s ministry are similar in that they ask the Lord for direction and use real life examples and/or personal experiences to relay God’s message.

As mother and daughter navigate their respective paths of service, Allen ignites hearts with passionate zeal, while Booker operates in effectively managing her spiritual gifts in order to be a blessing to her family and God’s people. 

Both women strive to cultivate a nurturing environment for spiritual growth and personal transformation as the threads of love and devotion support the unbreakable connection that echoes through generations.

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