The president of Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., has been elected to serve as the eleventh president of a 118-year-old missions denomination with nearly 2,000 churches attended by 420,000 people in the United States.
Dr. Gary M. Benedict, whose four-year term begins Aug. 1, 2005, was chosen to serve as president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) in the United States during General Council in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although 852 votes were necessary for election, Benedict received 1,078 of a possible 1,702.
The new C&MA head, known for his commitment to building relationships, says his job now is to move people to their God-given purposes.
"God has given us a message and a mandate," Benedict said in a recent news release by C&MA. "Our central message is Jesus and Jesus only. The outflow of that is missions."
According to the C&MA, the Minnesota native sees his election to the C&MA presidency as the convergence point of his life experiences.
After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University in Ames and a degree in missions from St. Paul Bible College (now Crown College) in 1972, Benedict pastored churches in Nebraska and Wisconsin. He later returned to Crown College to serve as director of development from 1982 to 1988. In 1989 he was elected superintendent of the Northwestern District of the C&MA.
In 1997, Benedict became the thirteenth president of Crown College, having received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Nyack College in New York. During his eight years as president, enrollment at Crown has increased by 60 percent.
In 2004 Benedict was elected corporate vice president for the U.S. C&MA.
"I love The Alliance," says Benedict, who commented earlier that he was "the kind of guy who brings people together."
Currently, C&MA national churches and ministries are located internationally in 84 countries with 3 million followers of Jesus in 18,000 churches. Its U.S. national office is located in Colorado Springs, Colo.
On the Web: www.crown.edu