A retired Wentworth Falls Presbyterian minister and former missionary is among those given honours on the Queen’s Birthday list.
Minister Robert Benn is proud to have worked for decades in cross cultural ministry around the world. He has been honoured for his work.
The Very Reverend Robert Percival Benn, 78, was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for his significant service to the Presbyterian Church of Australia as a parish minister, overseas missionary and national moderator.
“It was a surprise indeed,” the long-time Wentworth Falls resident, told the Gazette.
“It is very special.”
His service to the Presbyterian Church of Australia includes three years as the national moderator-generator [2007-2010], the minister of Springwood parish [2001-2005] and the national director of Australian Presbyterian World Missions [1993-2001].
He was also an ambassador to Jericho Road, the ministry arm of the church in NSW, and in his “retirement’ has researched the life of Australian Presbyterian minister, Reverend Dr John Flynn, the first leader of the Australian Inland Mission and pioneer of the Royal Flying Doctor Service who is featured on the Australian $20 note.
Dr Flynn had been an enduring hero for Rev Benn’s faith, but it was his own father Laurence and mother Marjorie who inspired the decades of service to God by himself and many members of his extended family.
Marriage ended his mother's dream of being a missionary in China but with husband Lawrence they prayed their children would take up ministry work. All of Rev Benn’s six siblings are working in some form of Christian ministry, and his three children have all been involved in cross cultural ministry, living with “Godly integrity”. Rev Benn, with his wife Laurel, was a missionary in Indonesia from 1967 to 1976, working with others in rolling out government legislated daily religious education in schools after the communist coup d’etat of 1965. Also, from 1999-2014, he helped the fledgling Protestant Church of East Timor following the United Nations taskforce intervention to address the humanitarian and security crisis there at the turn of the century.
“They were very formative years for us,” he said, helping him prepare to send others in the field as the national director of world missions when he returned home.
He thanked his wife of 52 years, who he had met in bible college, who stood “shoulder to shoulder” with him in service throughout Africa, Australia and across Asia.