Announcements

Easter photo cross and easter lillies at contmp. service

March 23rd~Children's Easter Event
It's time to begin collecting individually wrapped candy and treats to go into the Easter eggs for the children's Easter event to be held Saturday, March 23rd. A box marked EASTER TREATS will be on the pew outside the church office to place your items in. Thank you!
 
March 24th~Palm Sunday Worship Services:  9:00 a.m. Contemporary in the Family Life Center
11:00 a.m. Traditional Service in the Sanctuary 

March 31st~Easter Sunday Services: 

Easter Sunrise Service 7:00A.M. at WINDSOR CASTLE  PARK AMPITHEATER~~BRING A LAWN CHAIR

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9:00 a.m. Contemporary Service in the FLC, Benn's Church (Bring flowers to help decorate the cross!)

11:00 a.m. Traditional Worship Service in the Sanctuary,  Benn's Church (Bring flowers to help decorate the cross!)                                                                       

 

easter sunrise service photo WCP

Bring your lawn chair!

spaghetti feast

 Delicious food, new friends, and lots of fun at our Spaghetti Dinner at Benn's!!!

View the embedded image gallery online at:
https://www.bennsumc.org/annoucements#sigProId7757ac2f13

 

 

 
hunter11
This year, Benn’s UMC is celebrating the centennial of our Sanctuary cornerstone, July 4th of 1924.
Music is and always will be a beautiful part of our worship service. Today we honored, Hunter Jones, our organist, for her many years of service and dedication to Benn’s. Her talent and spirit are loved by each of us! Thank you Hunter, we love you! More photos below!
 

benns church outside photo

There will be something fun every month leading up to a big celebration on July 7th, stay tuned here!

We need your input-----“A Century of Memories" As part of our celebration of the 100th anniversary of our sanctuary we are looking for short reminisces from you about Benn’s, the sanctuary, or the fellowship you experienced here. You can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or drop off in the office.

 Historical Notes by John Edwards: Why Celebrate a Building's Anniversary?

Why commemorate the construction of our church's physical home? A church, after all, isn't a building. It's the people who occupy that building, and it's the spirit that moves those people to worship together, to minister to one another and to the community around them, in Christian love and fellowship.
And yet, our physical home is important. It helps define where we came from and who we are today, what our values are, what we hope to accomplish as a Christian  and in our instance, Methodist  congregation. And it provides the physical setting in which we can grow as a congregation.
Our church grew out of a revival movement known as the Great Awakening. During the latter years of that movement, missionaries sent to the American colonies by John Wesley preached often fiery sermons up and down the Atlantic coast, including Virginia. Out of those circuit riding efforts emerged Methodist Societies, including one here.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1784, only a year after the American Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris. Five years after that, in 1789, the local Methodist Society officially became a Methodist Episcopal Church.
A relatively prosperous member of the local congregation, George Benn, provided land for construction of a church building, and one is known to have been here in 1800. At that time, Mr. Benn still owned the land on which the building sat, but when he died in 1813, he left property to the "Methodist Connection" so that what by then was known as Benn's Church, would have a permanent home.
That first church must have been quite modest, for a second building was constructed in 1839, and  curiously  a third in 1888. There are no known records to indicate why the second or third building was constructed during such a brief time frame.
We know what happened to the third, and it could well have been the fate of the first two termites. During my lifetime, older members who were born in the early 1900s recalled that the small, frame church was riddled with termites to the point that the floor collapsed during a worship service. No one was injured, but the incident fueled the desire for a new church, and construction of that church began with a cornerstone ceremony on July 4, 1924.
It's that event that we will commemorate this year, culminating in a special service on July 7, and here's why it's particularly important to this church.
During the 1920s, most rural areas didn't have electricity, but this site did. Virginia Power had by then provided Suffolk and Smithfield with that remarkable new utility, and the lines ran down Highway 10, right by Benn's. That single fact gave the church leaders here the opportunity to plan a church with a local mission far more ambitious than had previously been possible.
There were few if any significant indoor gathering places for rural residents at the time, and the trustees of Benn's saw fit to build such a place. They would construct a brick church that provided not only a beautiful sanctuary but also a basement that would offer, of all things, indoor plumbing. That meant restrooms rather than outhouses and a modern furnace and radiators to heat the building. A kitchen, complete with modern appliances, would make onsite meal preparation possible for large events.
Not only would the church have space for a full and vigorous Sunday School program, but it would also accommodate church and community wide events. This new church home would thus be able to serve the Benn's Church and Carrollton communities in ways never before possible.
It was a huge success. For decades, Benn's served as the meeting place for the Smithfield Ruritan Club and other local civic organizations, as well as host to regional Methodist meetings, according to announcements in The Smithfield Times.
As the church grew-and it did-the original building became inadequate to accommodate modern needs. The Sunday School program outgrew the old basement area available to it, and in the late 1960s, the church's first major expansion was undertaken. That Sunday School wing enabled the church to open a preschool program that's still going strong a half century later.
The desire for a modern social center that was so much a part of the thinking in 1924 never faded, and in the 1990s led to the most recent expansion, the Family Life Center.
Today, we remain what we were in 1789-a Methodist congregation united in Christian faith and the principles espoused by John Wesley and other founders of the Methodist movement. But we are also unquestionably strengthened by the physical plant that enables our local ministry to serve our members and the community around us.
And the first step in creating that facility  the laying of its cornerstone a century ago  is, indeed, a cause for celebration.

 Historical Notes by John Edwards: A Brief History of Benn’s United Methodist Church

(By Eliza Timberlake Davis 1934)
In 1805, Bishop Asbury wrote that "God had wrought powerfully at Blunt’s and Benn’s."
Before the ‘Meeting House’ had been erected, they were accustomed to hold services at the homes. Frequently Bishop Asbury would arrive unexpectedly, and messengers would be sent out to announce such services, held at night in these houses, and they would hasten thither on foot and horse back to hear the word of God ex-pounded to them.
At the time that a meeting house was erected on these grounds, the land was owned by George Benn, whose gravestone is on the farm near Smithfield, now owned by Mr. Mary McIlnaine — the Carl Beale Farm. The pilasters which support the slab are gone, and it lies flat on the ground in a tangled thicket of briers and weeds. Mr. George Benn owned the farm above mentioned at his death and was buried not far from where his residence stood long since destroyed by fire.
(The stone was subsequently moved to the grounds in front of the church, where it remains today.)
In 1813, George Benn deeded to the Methodist denomination the ‘land between the roads; on which the ‘Meeting House’ now stands. He also gave enough land, back of the ‘Meeting House,’ sufficient for their needs in holding Camp Meetings.
That the Methodists did use the grounds for Camp Meetings, here, is proved by the following: Asbury wrote in the year 1820, April 28, “On Thursday, I preached at Benn’s Chapel, Isle of Wight, we had a decent, but not a feeling congregation.” The next year they seem to be shaken out of their indifference, and his writings sound a different note. Again he writes in his diary, “At a Camp Meeting in Isle of Wight the spirit descended in great power, and the praise of God burst from the life of many who had been strangers to his name; one hundred and fifty were born from above.”’
The Church, we know, was rebuilt in 1838, and again in 1888. The present handsome building in 1924.
These great oaks that surround this Church were here before the white man came. Under their sheltering boughs the first rude structure was set up. Here came on foot, through the forests, and on horseback, in rude vehicles over rough trails, the men and women of early Methodism, with their children to worship God. Later they journeyed in gigs and wagons, and on horseback to a more spacious house of worship. Then, in wheeled carriages and buggies to a newer building. Today from homes in which there are modern conveniences and luxury, riding in swift moving automo-biles, over smooth wide roads, we come to this beautiful house of God, to remember our Heavenly Father’s love and care and tender mercies through the years. We thank him for the lives that have been lived in this community; for the inestimable influence their living has had upon the character of those who worship here today, and in other lands and places where life’s duties have called them.
“In graves marked, and unmarked they sleep, their souls with God.”
(The above is an excerpt from “A HISTORY OF BENN’S CHURCH” by Mrs. Eliza Timberlake Davis, written on May 27, 1934, in Smithfield, Virginia.
One of the great losses in the history of Benn’s United Methodist Church is the full text of “A History of Benn’s Church,” written by Eliza Timberlake Davis. The excerpt above is all that remains of this remarkable lady’s historic research.
When Benn’s celebrated its Bicentennial in 1989, we searched diligently for the full text of the history. Descendants of Mrs. Davis were contacted and other leads pursued, but to no avail. It is possible that only a single copy of her work ever existed. Someday it, or a possible copy, may be found.
Until then, we have her cherished excerpt. Most of it is accurate, especially that portion dealing with George Benn and the notes of Francis Asbury. Some is romanticized, as was the style in her day. For example, the “great oaks” to which she referred were not virgin tim-ber dating to the preJamestown era. Such embellishments don’t detract from a history written with love.