“Open hearts, open minds, open doors” is the slogan for the new ministry leader of the United Methodist Church in St. Jacob, Clint Benesh.
“It’s a great community. Everyone we have met has been very positive,” Benesh said. “Even people who don’t go to church here have been really positive.”
Benesh was welcomed into the church Jan 9. The church, located in St. Jacob by the elementary school at 407 Jacob St., has been lacking an official leader for about two and a half years, according to Benesh.
Currently, the church has one worship service Sunday mornings at 10:15 a.m. Other current church programs include a Bible study at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings and a Compassionate Crafters group every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Benesh said that he is determined to expand the congregation and he is excited reach out to get the younger generation more involved.
“The really cool thing is … we keep growing, which is a good trend,” Benesh said. “That’s my comforting feeling.”
To “regrow and revitalize” the congregation, Benesh is working to create new events that will draw in more followers.
Ideas for the future include a second service Sundays, which will include a contemporary praise band instead of traditional music. A midweek, in-home prayer group focused on building ties within the community is also being organized, as well as a summer lunch program for children in need. However, at the moment, Benesh’s main goal is to build strong relationships within his new community, inside and outside the church.
“Relationships are key to me,” Benesh said. “Without that relationship, you don’t have honesty and you don’t have trust, so relationships are No. 1.”
Benesh is originally from Belleville, but in 2003, he moved with his family to Waterloo, where they joined the Real Life United Methodist Church.
Benesh said that during college, like many other people, he had a temporary lapse in faith.
“I grew up my whole life being involved in the church, growing up going to church camps, mission trips and music ministry and did the stereotypical thing that most graduates do and fell away from the church,” Benesh said.
Benesh finally let his mother convince him to become involved with the church again when he discovered the musical ministry praise team at Real Life.
“The music is what drew me in,” Benesh said.
Benesh’s love for music drove him to become a member of the praise team. After he joined, there was no going back; his 12-year service to music ministry had begun.
Benesh soon became the leader of the praise team and worked with the director to coordinate team operations. While working with the church, he realized that the church was lacking a youth program. Benesh decided to fill the gap and upon his shoulders to create a new youth program, where he was the youth minister for about seven years.
Last summer, Benesh had the realization that he wanted to completely commit to ministry. He felt that, because he was working full-time on top of volunteering for the church, his following at Real Life was suffering, because he was not able to be 100 percent committed.
Benesh learned of the position in St. Jacob when he was volunteering at the church over the summer. Because the church did not have an official leader, other ministers and preachers were participating in temporary rotating schedule, where different people would volunteer their time to come and speak. He saw the lack of a leader not only as a personal opportunity, but as a sign to follow his call from God.
When he received an offer for the new minister position Benesh took the opportunity as a sign from God and decided to move to St. Jacob with his wife Tina, and 1-year-old son, Barrett.
“I’m 100 percent all in on every level,” Benesh said.