From cold, grey Sitka, Alaska to sunny Elgin, Arizona, 42-year-old Andy Benton has traveled a long way to his new positon as pastor of Sonoita Hills Community Church. Benton is eager to bring his service, his unbounded energy and the words of Jesus Christ to the Elgin/Sonoita community as the leader of his new congregation.
A talented trumpet player, Benton started out after high school with a music scholarship to Boise State College. However, he states he “wasn’t quite ready to take that opportunity seriously enough,” so was back to Sitka after only one year. Recognizing his need for a bit more discipline, Benton, whose father was an Army veteran, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served for the next five years. His military career ended abruptly when in Okinawa he sustained a serious injury while training. This caused him to be medically retired and he returned to Alaska for his recovery.
He found employment with the Department of Veterans affairs, but the call to serve God became too strong to ignore. He used his GI Bill benefits to enroll at Liberty University in Virginia to earn his BA and then his Master of Divinity. Working in various capacities in Virginia as an associate pastor, a temporary visiting pastor and developer of music programs for different churches in the area, Benton also volunteered as a chaplain to the local jail. He then became the associate director of Hope Aglow Prison ministries where he worked for several years.
Feeling a pull to find a life partner who shared his passion to spread the word of God, Benton found Christian Mingle.com, a dating site for like-minded people. There he met Lisa Hauser, a fifth generation native of Sierra Vista, AZ. She shared his passion but had a successful career at Fort Huachuca, so he decided to move to Arizona for his soon-to-be wife.
With the help of Pastor Steve Lindsey and his family, Benton was able to move to Arizona, meet members in the “Christian Community” and share the gospel while courting Hauser. They married this past February.
Benton still enjoys his music as a trumpet player with the Desert Swing Orchestra in Sierra Vista where he joins fellow military veterans playing the swing pieces of the 30s and 40s. Lending his talents as a musician is yet another way to share his joy in serving others.
Applying first as a guest speaker in April 2021 to the Sonoita Hills Community Church, then installed as the new Pastor on June 1, Benton and Lisa look forward to serving the community. They are passionate about their mission to spread the gospel or to just help “up-right a barn, feed the hungry or minister the down-trodden” in any capacity and look forward to a useful and happy future in this little community, the same size as the community that Benton was born and raised in…only sunnier.