The Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase was born and raised near the Ohio River where, as a boy, he fished for catfish, sometimes using a BB gun. As the son of a football coach, football was the center of his life growing up. He recalls then that most of life’s problems could be solved by doing twenty push-ups. After high school, he accepted a scholarship to DePauw University to get an education and play football.
He injured his knee during his sophomore year and left the football team. By that time, God was doing more important things in his life. Until then, his faith life was formed primarily through Campus Crusade for Christ and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. During his second winter semester at DePauw his life changed dramatically. He was asked by Chaplain Fred Lamar to be a project leader for the semester program in Guatemala. During the semester, his team members were responsible for constructing a health clinic for Project L.I.F.E. (Lake Izabal Farming & Education) run by the Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala. During his time there, he began attending daily mass (the young priest there, Sylvestre Romero, would later become Bishop of Belize and then Assisting Bishop in New Jersey. Bishop Romero was one of Bishop Benhase’s consecrators on January 23, 2010). This discipline of daily mass began his journey to the Episcopal Church. He returned for two other winter semesters in Central America before graduating in 1979 with a degree in Religion. He was confirmed in the Episcopal Church two months before he graduated from the university.
After college, he spent a year as a missionary of the Episcopal Church in Honduras. During that time, he was discerning a vocation to ordained ministry with his bishop, Edward Jones of Indianapolis. In 1980, he was accepted as a postulant and entered Virginia Theological Seminary. While at VTS, he reacquainted himself with Kelly Jones with whom he had worked in Appalachia during their college summers. Kelly was working for a public interest law firm and preparing to go to law school. They were married on May 12, 1984, eight weeks after Bishop Benhase was ordained a priest. Kelly, by then, had discerned a call to teaching rather than law. After two years as a curate at Trinity Church, Indianapolis, he accepted a call to be Rector of St Paul’s, East Cleveland, an urban parish in one of the poorest communities in the country. He spent five years there helping the parish transition from a predominantly white parish to a predominantly black one. Kelly and Scott’s two sons, John & Charley, were both born while they were serving in East Cleveland.
In 1990, Bishop Benhase was called to be Vicar of Trinity, Charlottesville, an historic black church that discerned a call to become an integrated community to witness next door to Mr. Jefferson’s University. While in Charlottesville, Kelly completed her Masters in English Education from UVA and also gave birth to their third child, Mary Grace. By 1995, Trinity Church had expanded their facilities and was on the verge of becoming a fully integrated parish, so Bishop Benhase accepted a call to St Philip’s Church in Durham, North Carolina, the mother church of Durham. The parish had been in decline for a few years and was struggling to define itself in downtown Durham surrounded by homeless persons. In his eleven years leading St Philip’s, Bishop Benhase helped the parish through two capital campaigns and expansion of their facilities as well as the expansion of the 130 bed homeless shelter next door to the parish.
In 2006, Bishop Benhase accepted a call to be Rector of St Alban’s Parish in Washington, DC, the parish church next to the National Cathedral. The parish was facing a financial challenge that was exacerbated by the subsequent national financial crisis. In 3 ½ years at St Alban’s, he was able to help the parish stop the financial deficits, refocus parish ministries in a healthy direction, and begin growing again with young adults and young families. Before he could see the fruit of his part in the ministry at St Alban’s, he was elected Bishop of Georgia in September of 2009 and consecrated as the 10th Bishop of Georgia on January 23, 2010.
In the first year of his episcopate, he has recognized the vitality and commitment of many diocesan leaders and the parishioners of our congregations. He knows the diocese has numerous financial and other challenges to face in the short term, but he is confident and hopeful in the long term because the diocese is blessed with two indispensable resources: a deep and abiding faith in Jesus and a strong core of disciples.