In the Fall of 2006, a small group of faithful servants from several local parishes met with Bishop Neil Alexander and The Rev. Lang Lowrey to discuss the possibility of planting a church in Smyrna. Over the next year, these founding members began the ministry of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church, forming adult formation groups, an active youth group and a children’s ministry.
On January 13, 2008, the first Eucharist was celebrated in the Campbell Middle School gymnasium. The services held in the gym were an elaborate collaboration of devoted members who literally transformed the gym into a worship space, featuring a fully set altar, organ with a parish choir, vestments, sound system, and 200 individual chairs. The St. Benedict’s metal cross, which now is hanging in our Nave, was hoisted high above the altar by a pulley system. Adult, youth and children’s formation classes were held in nearby classrooms and breakfast was served in the concession stand.
Meanwhile, a small group of members, known as the Bishop’s Committee, were looking for real estate in the Smyrna area in which to plant the permanent home. After considering several locations, the vacant Locust Grove Baptist Church, founded in 1910, was targeted as the space to continue God’s ministry. This space underwent a complete renovation, and the first service of the permanent home of St. Benedict’s was held on All Saints Day, November 1, 2009.
One of the attractions of the Locust Grove space was an adjoining three-story classroom building. Starting as a vision to bring quality primary education with an Episcopal tradition to the Smyrna area, several learning cottages, affectionately known as the “Bee Hive”, were located in the upper parking lot and the first classes of St. Benedict’s Day School were held in the Fall of 2008.
The church family prospered in the new location calling The Rev. Brian Sullivan to be the first rector of St. Benedict’s in October 2010. On All Saints’ Day in 2011, a Spanish-speaking mass, led by Fr. Ramon Betances, was added to the worship offerings. St. Benedict’s School has grown to serve the needs of the community and celebrated its first graduating class of 8th graders in May 2016.
In January 2019, The Rev. Brian Sullivan transitioned to full-time Headmaster of St. Benedict's Episcopal School. The Rev. Ashley Carr covered the pastoral and worship needs of the church until Rev. Claiborne Jones came to us as an interim rector while we waited for the completion of the call process. Now we are blessed that The Rev. Jenna Strizak has answered the call in January 2021 to be our full time rector.
From its humble beginnings in a middle school gym to the exquisite renovation of a historical church, worship at St. Benedict’s has brought the Word of God to a new community and fostered its spiritual growth. The mission of St. Benedict’s brings together people from diverse backgrounds and plants common ground for them to grow in faith together.