Carrying the Torch
There have been many people who have profoundly influenced my faith, but none more than my father, Richard Benefield, aka "The Jolly Fat Man of the Hotel Magee." Dad was a hotel manager and caterer whose worked tirelessly 7 days most weeks. He prepared me for the minister's life by working every weekend. But for him, work was not the center of his life, faith was.
My Dad's favorite verse of the Bible was Romans 12:1: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." He found his particular calling later in the chapter, "We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching, the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness." God gave my Dad and abundance of most these gifts, though he considered he was especially blessed to be a generous giver.
One of the things my Dad used to say, which has been a guiding light for my own life, is: "If you love to serve others, you will always have something important to do and you will always be happy." He loved to serve his church, his community, and God's creation, and it made him a very happy man.
I remember when I was 12 years old, I went to the First Presbyterian Church of Bloomsburg, PA, for a worship service in which my Dad, an elder of that church, was installed as Moderator of Northumberland Presbytery. On Tuesday night, when I was installed as Moderator of Monmouth Presbytery, surrounded by my family and so many wonderful friends from United Presbyterian Church and the Monmouth Presbytery, I knew that my Dad was one of that "great cloud of witnesses" cheering us on from heaven (Hebrews 12:1).
My father was the one who helped light the torch of my faith, the Light of Christ that illumines my path in life and inspires me to share Christ's love and light with others. My prayer is that we might be the kind of Christians whose love for Christ and service for others inspires generations to come, just as my father's did.
6/24/2014 09:48:21 pm
Jean, I only met your Dad once...when the Pennington Pres. Youth Group went on a ski weekend (or was it a retreat?); we slept at your home church and had Sunday lunch at the Hotel Magee before we left for home. Your Dad was a wonderful host, showing such gracious hospitality. I've never forgotten him. It's been a privilege being your colleague ALL THESE YEARS!!! Congratulations on becoming Moderator of Monmouth Presbytery. You will do a stellar job. And thanks for this remembrance of your Dad.
3/6/2019 02:29:35 pm
I worked for your dad at Hotel Magee as a line cook wow could he cook. I also worked on his smorgasbord upstairs on the weekend. Is there a picture of him you could share with me he was kind of a hero to me it was my first job and I tell my wife about him to this day.
11/19/2021 11:24:15 am
Please send picture
11/19/2021 11:22:44 am
Please send a picture of him for my memory book. Thanks
11/19/2022 03:56:34 am
This was great to read, thanks
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Rev. Dr. Shannon Smythe
United Presbyterian Church