In the 50s and 60s, the Benson neighborhood had a dozen thriving churches along its downtown Maple Street strip. However, Benson took a hit spiritually and culturally in the following decades—one of those reasons being “white flight.” Although the churches in Benson are still experiencing a spiritual struggle, culturally we are in the midst of a “Benson renaissance,” according to City Councilman Pete Festersen, elected in 2009. In 2015, Yahoo.com named Benson one of the newest hipster neighborhoods in the U.S. Benson’s Maple Street strip is being redeveloped with new restaurants, creative businesses, and apartments. Benson also has the most entertainment venues in Omaha behind the Old Market.
One year after Citylight Omaha was planted and had grown to over 1,000 in attendance, we sensed that God was calling us to plant a church during a prayer gathering at the end of 2014. On June 14, 2015, we held our first Benson Core Team gathering with 150 adults and 30 kids. The same week we purchased Benson Presbyterian Church and held our first worship gathering there on June 21, 2015. The core team met throughout the summer on Monday nights to renovate the building, on Tuesday nights to pray together, and on Sunday mornings to share breakfast and preach through our core values.
The CLB Core Team gathered with the vision of reaching 13,000 Benson residents for Christ and with a heart to serve refugees, artists, musicians, schools, and families. We held our public launch on September 20, 2015.
Near the end of 2018 as we prayed for a new co-lead pastor and God graciously connected us to Pastor Jamison Horton. He and his wife Raquel had planted Forward Church earlier in 2018. We sensed that God was leading us to merge our two churches together and pursue a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural church planting vision. We officially merged in February of 2019 and have been growing ever since! We are better together and are praising God for his goodness toward us.
We want to now invite you to be a part of what God is doing. Come check us out!
To learn more about Benson’s spiritual history and how we want CLB to intersect that story, listen to the following sermon: Benson History & Gospel Intersection.