We are excited to introduce to you one of the newest members of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Jill Benson. Jill serves as the Dwell Curriculum Coordinator.
1. Can you describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation?
I’ve been very blessed to have a variety of people influence my faith formation throughout my life. My parents gave me a wonderful faith foundation, imparting to me a love of God and his people. In college, I had a wonderful mentor, who shaped my worldview and helped me discover my love for studying Scripture. Then, while in seminary, I sat under the teaching of fantastic professors who had a heart for God and worshipped alongside an amazing community as we helped to plant a local church. My faith has grown into what it is today through all these loving friends who allowed me to be a part of their lives.
2. Jill, you have worked as a Children's Ministry Director, can you tells a little bit more about that involves and how you think that experience will enrich your work as the new Dwell Curriculum Coordinator?
As the Children’s Ministry Director, I oversaw all the programming for the 84 children at my church. This included selecting curriculum, recruiting and equipping volunteers and resourcing parents to continue our teaching in their homes. Having worked as a Dwell coordinator, I can speak to the struggles that Dwell Coordinators may experience. I also taught the Dwell curriculum myself for three years, so I can relate to that role as well. One of my favorite parts of being a Children’s Ministry Director was finding creative new ways to implement curriculum, so I’m excited to share some of the ideas I’ve used with others using Dwell and also hear some new ideas from Dwell coordinators and teachers.
3. You have a degrees in Biblical Languages and Old Testament, how do you think those degrees have influenced your faith formation and your work at churches?
One of the things I find most helpful about reading the Bible in its original languages is the way it slows down my reading. I’m much less likely to gloss over words or phrases because I’m monotonously translating every single word, focusing on how all those words fit together grammatically. In my own faith formation, this has helped me to find fuller meaning in my Bible study. My first exegesis class in seminary was on the book of Exodus and I’ll never forget the relief and joy I felt when I read Exodus 2:24-25 and found that God heard his people’s cry, after struggling through the translation of two chapters of oppression by the hand of the Egyptians. When we read through the text quickly, so much of the great beauty of God’s word can be lost. One of my goals in my work with faith formation and churches is to help readers slow down and experience more fully the beauty of God’s word.
4. Your family has traveled to many different states in the United States, what has been one of your favorite places that you have visited and why?
My husband and I lived on the North Shore of Boston for six years so that’s probably my favorite place to visit. We left behind a fantastic community full of dear friends as well as some really amazing restaurants, and I like to go back regularly to get some time in with both. But Maine would probably be a close second, as I love both Portland and Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park. Both places have fantastic food, which is a must for a Benson vacation. In Portland our favorite was a place called Duckfat where they cooked all their food in duck fat and in Bar Harbor, we loved this little deli near the coast where you could get lobster roll and eat it as you looked out on the rocky ocean shore. At Acadia, we love the beautiful views and the hike up Cadillac Mountain.
5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it in your role as the Dwell Curriculum Coordinator?
I would love to be able to time travel. I have a tendency to try to fit too many things into any given day. Similar to Hermoine in The Prisoner of Azkaban, if I could time travel I could just go back and re-use time that would otherwise have already been spent. This would of course give me more time to work on all the elements of my new position, allowing me to quickly resource and equip the Dwell community. But there’s something to be said for moving at the regular pace God has given us. In the end, even Hermoine opted out of her overloaded schedule.
Faith Formation Ministries provides congregational faith formation leaders the opportunity to meet in-person or connect digitally or by phone with members of our team and other ministry leaders for coaching and support. Whether it’s a one-time, one-on-one conversation or a long-term peer group, we are here to help. For more information, visit crcna.org/FaithFormation/coaching!