Rev. Christopher J. Benek
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Born in Ashtabula, Ohio during the year of the United States Bicentennial and the advent of Rocky – Christopher James Benek grew up in the meager surroundings of Mobile Acres trailer park loving every childhood minute of it. A product of the Buckeye Local School System Chris completed one year at Edgewood Senior High School before transferring to Geneva High School when his family moved to the country in Austinburg, Ohio. Surrounded by farms and woodlands Chris grew up in a engaging atmosphere that intrigued the imagination.
Upon graduation, Chris enrolled at Hiram College and sought out a Pre-Law educational track, dual majoring in Political Science and History while working full time. He also engaged in an eclectic mix of student activities – serving as a two-sport varsity student athlete, a member of the HC Student Senate and various undergraduate clubs and organizations. He was elected the president of the Conservative Students Forum, the Pre Law Club, and founded the legendary Hiram College Disco Club. Chris was a three-year Editor-in-Chief of the Hiram College Advance, Team Captain of the Moot Court Team, and the chairman of the Campaign for Computer Expansion Committee that succeeded in prompting the College Administration to network of the entire college campus.
In the midst of his Jr. Year, Chris’ Pre-Law path would change as he was introduced to the Northwest Avenue Church of Christ in Tallmadge, Ohio. There he would come to develop an yearning for that which is eternal, confessing his belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The following summer, as he studied in the ancestral home of Russell Kirk in Mecosta, Michigan as a National Honor Fellow for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, two faculty mentors guided Chris to seminary.
In 1998, Chris enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary where he went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Theology degree with a focus on Christian Ethics while working numerous part time jobs. Chris again became active in his local Princeton community. He served as a representative to the Seminary Student Government Association, as a member to the SGA Constitutional Review Committee, The Jacques Maritain Society, Seminarians for Life, and was the founder and president of Princeton Students Against Infanticide. Chris was an avid participant in Intramural Sports, served as a PTS assistant Web Designer, the resident Director for the PTS Center for Christian Education, and in 2001 was awarded the PTS Fellowship Prize for Religion and Society. For two years of his education, Chris resided in Hopewell, NJ serving Hopewell Presbyterian Church as a Jr. High Youth Group Leader while also serving First Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, NJ (1999-2002) as the Director of Adult Education. It was in FPC Ridgewood where Chris would become a Presbyterian and subsequently be called to join the Presbyterian Church (USA).
In fall of 2002 Chris accepted a call to First Presbyterian Church in Greenville Ohio where he was ordained and served successfully as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Youth. During his time in Greenville Chris studied Biblical Hebrew and PCUSA Polity at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio while also completing Clinical Pastoral Education at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center. Once again Chris became engaged in his local community serving as the President of the State of the Heart, Hospice Board of Trustees and Vice President of the Darke County Youth for Christ Board of Trustees. Additionally, he served as adjunct faculty at Edison State Community College teaching classes in Philosophy, Ethics, and World Religions. In 2009 Chris enrolled at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he is currently engaged in the world’s first ever Doctor of Ministry program focusing specifically on Theology and Science.
In that same year, Chris was called to Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island where he now serves as the Associate Pastor of Family Ministries. The roughly 650 person congregation nestled on 27.5 acres of property at the island’s south end provides a prime opportunity for evangelism and outreach to the inhabitants of the region as well as the over two million people that visit the island each year. Currently Chris is serving on the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery’s Coordinating Committee, and is the Presbytery’s Chair of Leadership Development.
Chris has been happily married to his wife Jeannelle for nearly a decade now. They have four cats and are thankful for all of the blessings that God has put in their lives.