Pastor Benny Stiltner and his family relocated from South Carolina to Upstate NY in 2016. With over 18 years of ministry experience, he is now using his gifts and talents to further the Kingdom right here in our region. His experiences as an itinerant speaker, church planter and pastor of a non-denominational church in Aiken, SC has prepared him for such a time as this. A group of dedicated individuals have been meeting, preparing and praying since 2016. Their official church launch was in September of 2018.
I had met Pastor Benny several times, the most recent being at a pastor/leader meeting I had invited him to speak at. He graciously accepted my invitation and what he shared was so compelling I knew I had to go visit his church. A few friends joined me for that same reason. We walked into the modern complex and the people greeting were all just as outgoing and friendly as Pastor Benny. The lobby had fresh brewed coffee available and welcome gifts for the first-time guests. I always get excited when I receive a new church mug to add to my collection (and this mug was the coolest one yet!). We talked and lingered in the sunny room until the service began. Erik Michael, the Creative Arts Director, began to invite people to join in. Erik lead with his acoustic guitar, joined by another vocalist, as well as a keyboard and Cajon (drum box). Erik has been raising the bar for worship music in our area for many years and was recently signed by A Thousand Hills Music, LLC! Well-deserved Erik!
Pastor Benny began by stating, “We are a people of the Word”. Having heard him teach before, I was well-aware that this would be an in depth, thought provoking, Spirit filled message. Even the opening statements made me stop and really think – “God’s love for us is perfect, but our love for God is filled with blemishes”. There is no greater mandate in life than to love God. If we don’t get this one right, nothing else matters. God deserves more than our lip service. “Bumper sticker belief” just won’t cut it. Luke warm love won’t cut it. He wants us to be consumed by Him. We must have a personal relationship with God (not resting on others). Give the Lord your love or it will go somewhere else. God is never satisfied with anything less than the whole devotion of our lives. God comes first. The heart of it all is a matter of idolatry … when we love something more than God. As he continued to speak, I noticed everyone was intently listening. It was as if his message of putting God first was being put into action by the congregation at that very moment.
Pastor Benny then asked if anyone present had a desire to give more to the Lord. Hands went up all over the room. Then he strongly urged that our response wouldn’t just end there. He encouraged all of us to put some action to it. He was challenging all of us to walk the walk. They concluded with a worship song, giving everyone an opportunity to worship while the words we just heard sank into our hearts.
Afterwards, we went back to the lobby for some more fellowship. They had a backdrop perfect for picture taking, along with signs to hold up such as “You are Loved”. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to take advantage of this cool photo op! This church may be serious about worship and Word, but they also know how to have fun. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, making it comfortable and easy to make new friends. There was a wonderful sense of God’s love in the room as we spent time getting to know some of the people.
Sunday services are held at 10 am (345 Hermes Rd., Malta in the HVCC Tec Smart Building). Small groups are held on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 pm. Perusing their website, I was impressed to see an in-depth and transparent explanation of their beliefs. An excerpt from their website states, “UNCOMMON … Far from seeking comfortable Sunday morning experiences to satiate the hunger of a boundless heart, it settles for nothing less than daily drinks from the well that never runs dry”. Come for a visit … you will meet a community of believers who are living out what it means to BE UNCOMMON.
Church Website – www.theuncommon.church
By Donna Hansen Munafo