Pete and Ginnie Benson established their careers on the strong foundation of Christian principles — Pete building a full-service wealth management company in Nashville, Tennessee, and Ginnie excelling in the cellular telecommunications industry.
Now they are investing in the lives of future Christian business leaders. One way is through the expansion of business programs at Southern Wesleyan University (SWU), including a robust, new financial planning curriculum and a Doctor of Business Administration set to launch in 2021.
More than just the namesakes of the Benson School of Business, Pete and Ginnie Benson are also personally investing their time and talent in students, traveling from their home in the Nashville area to SWU’s campus in Central, South Carolina, regularly to guest lecture and interact one-on-one.
Pete and Ginnie have a passion for guiding students who are at a point in life where they are starting to make financial decisions and have the potential to make a positive impact as disciple-makers for decades.
“We’ve always had a heart for young people; we feel like they are the ones who are going to change the world. As we got later in life and God blessed us, we asked ‘what should we invest in?’ The biggest passion was the colleges,” Pete said.
“Our business and the way God has blessed it — the whole trajectory of our life has far surpassed whatever we could have dreamed on our own, and then to be able to mirror that into the lives of young people, that’s always been a passion of ours,” Ginnie said. “Dr. (Todd) Voss [SWU president] approached us about that. We prayed about and talked about it, and it lit such a fire in us we couldn’t say ‘no.’”
Another way the Bensons are investing in the lives of future Christian leaders is through Kingswood University in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada. Southern Wesleyan and Kingswood are affiliated with The Wesleyan Church.
“Pete Benson likes to challenge others to be ‘ridiculously generous,’ to give joyfully in abundance,” said Kingswood President Dr. Stephen Lennox. “The Bensons don’t just talk about it, they model it. Through their generosity, Kingswood students are now able to enjoy the incredible facilities at the Benson Athletic Complex. Our newly remodeled Stairs Hall and Greg Mann Dining Commons are now fully accessible, thanks in large part to Pete and Ginnie. In these and many other ways, the Bensons have been ‘ridiculously generous’ to Kingswood. We’re honored to have Pete serving on our Board of Trustees and to have both Pete and Ginnie as Kingswood University alumni.”
Pete also serves on the SWU Board of Trustees and Business Advisory Board.
Pointing to more than 2,500 Bible verses that deal with money and stewardship, Pete likens the business world to a mission field.
“They are not just going to a job,” said Pete. “There’s a much higher calling to Christians that go out into their career — it really gives you a whole new purpose for waking up in the morning and going to work.
“It goes along with Dr. (Wayne) Schmidt’s focus of the movement of The Wesleyan Church to build a transforming presence in every ZIP code. Well, where do we have businesses? In every ZIP code. We have more businesses than we do churches — that’s what makes me excited!”
“Pete’s generosity has created new energy in the School of Business,” said Dr. Stephen Preacher, dean of The Benson School of Business at Southern Wesleyan. “He’s been the inspiration in motivating the School of Business to develop a new concentration in financial planning.”
The Bensons would love to see all students, regardless of their major, take some finance classes so they can establish a firm financial foundation.
“I believe that when you’re young and don’t have that much, that’s the time to get it right in your financial life. Create the foundation when you don’t have that much, and the foundation is this: you don’t own anything, God owns it all. That’s the way we’ve lived our life — when we’ve had little, we felt that way; when we had more, we felt that way; when we have much, we’re both on the same page — we’re to be good managers of it,” Pete said.
“We had people invest in us when we went to college, because we were very poor college students,” Ginnie said. “So, for us to be in a position where we could do that into the lives of young people is incredible!”
For Pete and Ginnie Benson, making investments in students is one of importance in multiplying disciples to create a transforming presence in every ZIP code.
Ed Welch serves as director of communications at Southern Wesleyan University.