President Stephen Benham
Stephen Benham is currently Associate Professor of Music Education and Director of Graduate Studies at the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), where he teaches undergraduate courses in music education and string pedagogy and graduate courses in music education philosophy and psychology. He has also served on the faculties of Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) and Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA), where he taught courses in research and Eastern European culture. He holds degrees from the University of Minnesota (B.S.), the University of Michigan (M.M.) and the University of Rochester––Eastman School of Music (Ph.D.).
In 1996, Stephen received an invitation to begin the Ukraine Project under the auspices of MIWC. At the same time, he and his family sensed that the Lord was leading them in a new direction. In 1997, they left Oregon, where he was a public school teacher, so he could pursue graduate studies. An extended visit to Kyiv in the same year confirmed God’s direction for their involvement in newly developing work in Ukraine and underscored the crucial role of specialized training and skills for effective cross-cultural ministry.
Stephen was appointed Executive Director of MIWC in 2004, when the board of directors determined that the evolving needs of the organization required an expansion of the administrative team. At the same time, the growing recognition of the importance of the cross-cultural models employed in MIWC projects led to an increase in the number of invitations and requests for MIWC leadership and involvement in other national and international locations. The MIWC board appointed him president in 2011.
The training of ministers, church leaders, teachers, directors and musicians is one of the most important aspects of his function at MIWC. In addition to the numerous seminars, conferences and workshops provided for Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking church organizations and schools in Europe and the United States, his training and experiences in public school and higher education have resulted in numerous opportunities to speak at state schools and educational professionals outside of the church setting, in government-sponsored conservatories and educational institutions in Eastern Europe.
An unexpected blessing that has resulted from the development of the Ukraine Project has been the opportunity to work extensively with Slavic immigrant families in the United States. He and his family are actively involved in cross-cultural ministry in the local community, providing counseling, training and assistance in meeting the challenges that come with adapting to a new culture. His wife, Kristin, who also has degrees in church music and music performance and plays the piano professionally, is an active partner in this ministry.
Since that initial visit, he has made more than 40 visits to Ukraine. Working closely with national church leaders, MIWC has developed a multi-faceted project. The result of this unique project has been the development of nearly 20 church-community music schools serving approximately 500 students. His research in Ukraine has revealed a strong connection between music within the Ukrainian church and the construction of Christian identity in the post-Soviet era.
Stephen’s background and experience in public school and higher education have resulted in numerous opportunities to work with educational professionals outside of the church setting. He is a frequent speaker at state, national and international conventions and works extensively as a conductor with youth and children’s ensembles. He is president-elect of the American String Teachers Association.
He and his wife, Kristin, attend Peters Creek Baptist Church and are actively involved in ministry with the local Slavic immigrant community. He served as interim pastor of Pittsburgh Slavic Baptist Church in 2008–2009, and continues to be actively involved in Slavic ministries in the United States.