This is the second in our occasional Student Spotlight series. From time-to-time we will be profiling BSSF students, whose different backgrounds and gifts enrich our common life.
Stephen Benitz found his way to BSSF in a roundabout way. He was raised in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, transitioned to the ECLA in high school, and was received in the Episcopal Church after his marriage to Shelby Allen in 2001. Stephen lives in Clear Lake, Iowa with his wife and 13 year-old daughter, Emily.
Stephen received a BS in business, majoring in management, marketing, and logistics, from Indiana University, Bloomington. He had a 20 year career in advertising sales and sales management for radio stations, and later for the newspaper industry.
But a call to ministry persisted. In 2015 Stephen enrolled in the MDiv program at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and chose BSSF for his final year as part of EDS's teach-out program because of BSSF’s low residency/high intensive curriculum.
Stephen’s parish has been without a permanent rector for an extended period of time. At his Bishop’s suggestion, the parish hired Stephen as “Ministries Coordinator” in April 2017 to help provide stable local leadership. In this part-time position Stephen works with the parish administrator, vestry, supply clergy, and various church committees to facilitate the daily operations of the parish. “Balancing full-time graduate studies with parish ministry, family, and coaching can get pretty wild sometimes. However, actively engaging in parish ministry while attending seminary is an incredibly formative experience. I’m blessed with the opportunity to immediately place the concepts and strategies we learn in class into real-world contexts. I look forward to focusing on full-time ministry after completing my degree program at Bexley Seabury.”
He was ordained to the transitional diaconate in December of 2017 and expects to be ordained to the priesthood this summer. Outside of his family and church work, he enjoys coaching soccer and ice hockey.
Stephen’s experience at BSSF has been very positive. He particularly appreciated the pastoral support of both faculty and staff as he transitioned into the BSSF community. He enjoys the diversity of his classmates and the affiliation with ACTS schools, which has allowed him to be exposed to students from a wide range of denominations. “I’ve learned a lot from my fellow students,” he reported. “My classes are engaging and the faculty makes learning fun.”