St. John’s Lutheran Church welcomes new pastor


Rev. Jacob Benson accepted the call to pastor St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lovell in early

January and was installed March 14, 2021.

Originally from Wyoming, Pastor Benson grew up in Worland, where his family attended St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. After high school graduation he attended Northwest College in Powell. He transferred to a college in Portland, returning to Wyoming to finish his bachelor’s degree in religious studies and psychology from the University of Wyoming.

Benson had been meeting with the Lutheran pastor in Laramie, a man he respected and looked to for guidance. Not knowing what direction he wanted to go after five years in humanities studies, his
pastor encouraged Benson to continue his education in religious studies, which he did.

“What’s the contribution I want to make? I was thinking about what would be fulfilling to me. The church was a source of comfort for me,” Benson said. “Pastor Marcus Zill at St. Andrew’s in Laramie helped me a lot in deciding to attend seminary instead of pursuing a secular master’s degree. It was a good decision. I got to preach and talk about Jesus while I was learning.”

He enrolled at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After his first year of studies, he spent the summer serving The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland, as a vicar. After his second year of studies, he was assigned a full-year vicarage at Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following his vicarage year, he returned to the seminary to complete the academic requirements for his Master of Divinity degree and was certified for ministry in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod by the faculty of CTS.

During his tenure at the seminary, a young lady from Wisconsin was visiting her brother, who was also attending the seminary at Fort Wayne. Mary and Jacob met, and on
May 20, 2018, two days after graduation, she became his bride.

Benson returned to the seminary as a graduate assistant for one year, tutoring Hebrew and Greek and earning a Master of Sacred Theology with his thesis “Storytelling as Doctrinal Identity: John, Paul, and the Parting of the Ways.”

Benson was called to pastor Zion Lutheran Church in Orange, Connecticut. He had been there for a year and a half when he accepted the call from St. John’s in Lovell.

“We were close to the beach, close to New York City. I love the city, but I am excited to be back in the mountains. The slower pace of a small town is nice,” Benson said of being in Lovell.

When asked what his focus of ministry is, Benson said, “I love talking about Jesus. In saying what my focus of ministry is, I will explain what it is not. It is not trying to grow an organization or a country club. It is preaching the gospel to people, first of all meeting the needs of this local congregation and then reaching out into the community. I’m excited to be a pastor.”

Looking back on his own experience, Benson talked about reaching young people.

“When I was a small child, I didn’t like going to church, and I guess I was a typical teenager. But while I was in Laramie I began to see the historical liturgy as something I could sink my teeth into. I went to a campus church, and it was there I saw other young people who were enjoying the historical teachings, the Psalms and the hymns. I could open a hymnal and say this is what Lutherans have been doing for 500 years and Christians for 2,000 years.”

St. John’s is remodeling their great hall with plans to put in a pool table and create other activities for youth.

Pastor Benson’s plans are to contact New Horizons Care Center to see if they will allow him to hold a Bible study. He would also like to start a men’s Bible study. He looks forward to having church picnics in the summer and maybe plan a VBS.

His time will get very busy come October, as he and Mary are expecting their first child. However, before then he hopes to tend a garden this summer.

Pastor Benson leads the services at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Sunday mornings at 10:30 and teaches a Bible lesson at 9:15 a.m. During Lent there are Wednesday services at 7:30 p.m. The church offers an after-school program on Wednesdays for K-6. The women’s group, LWML, meets once a month.

“I would love to see anyone from the community come and join us in worship of Christ Jesus and to receive His gifts,” Pastor Benson concluded.