Paul W. Allen, a California native and the elder of two children, was reared in Escalon, in the San Joaquin Valley. The only son of a cemetery manager and a registered nurse, he graduated in 1969 from La Verne College (now, the University of La Verne, La Verne, California) with a B.A. in a humanities distributive major, with extensive experience and participation in drama, music and journalism. In 1972 he matriculated with a Masters of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary, Oak Brook, Illinois, and then served three years as a pastoral minister to the Bethel Church of the Brethren in southeast Nebraska. He returned to California in 1975 and earned a second B.A. in Music/Drama at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), earning his teaching credential in 1981.
Becoming Minister of Music at Prince of Peace Church, Sacramento, in 1981, he brought their choral music program to new heights. This choir performed regularly for the community and staged children’s musicals. At the same time, he began work at the Sacramento Job Corps Center in south Sacramento, a facility funded by the Department of Labor to help young adolescents receive their high school equivalency and learn a trade. There he became a full time counselor to teenagers.
At Prince of Peace Church he also founded The Bells of Peace, a handbell choir, in 1984. During this same time he began teaching music full time at the James Rutter Middle School (JRMS), in the Elk Grove Unified School District, instructing band, chorus, handbells and general music. He founded The Concert Carillons Handbell Choir, the school’s handbell choir, and the only handbell program in a secondary school in all of northern California. He is currently a co-department leader of the arts at JRMS.