Ron Benefiel Back Home at PLNU
Ron Benefiel, Ph.D., has accepted his election by the faculty as dean of PLNU’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry, effective July 1. Benefiel and his wife, Janet, are moving back to San Diego from Kansas City where Benefiel served as president of Nazarene Theological Seminary for the past 11 years. The move back to PLNU is a “homecoming” for Benefiel as he served on the PLNU faculty before being elected president of NTS. Janet’s ongoing fight against cancer is part of the reason for their return, as it will allow them to be closer to their three children who live in San Diego. Ron, Janet, and their daughters, Leanne and Robyn, are PLNU alumni and their son, Tim, is a current student.
“In returning to PLNU, I am thankful for the opportunity to be faithful as a Christian educator to this generation of students as so many have been faithful to me,” said Benefiel. “My first priority will be to re-engage the PLNU community. I plan to do a lot of listening in my first few months.”
Under Benefiel’s presidency, NTS embraced the challenge of becoming a “missional seminary serving a missional church.” The school expanded its focus globally and began offering courses in new formats, including online and video conferencing. This past year, the seminary developed collaborative partnerships providing the opportunity for NTS coursework to be offered at several Nazarene college campuses.
While serving as a PLNU professor from 1996 to 2000, Benefiel co-founded and co-pastored Mid City Church of the Nazarene with John Wright, Ph.D., and David Whitelaw, D.Th. Mid City is now a thriving multi-congregational church.
From 1982 to 1996, Benefiel served as pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles, a multi-congregational church. He also founded and served as the executive director of the P.F. Bresee Foundation, a nonprofit community center in LA’s Mid-Wilshire district.
Benefiel has always had a passion for serving his community, and his name has been highly respected within the Church of the Nazarene. Over the past 40 years, he has served the denomination on numerous councils and boards related to education, research, and youth ministry. His work in the community has included serving on the board of directors of the Kansas City Urban Youth Center and of rescue missions in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Kansas City.
Benefiel received his B.A., M.A., and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from PLNU. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Southern California.