Pilgrim Congregational of Benson stands proudly on the corner of 13th Street North and Idaho Avenue. The church is easily identified by the large UCC symbol above each entrance. The symbols are like beacons to visitors approaching from each of three highways into the city. The architectural design is a pleasing blend – reflective of the church’s history, growth and transformation over the past 134 years (founded in 1876).
As you enter either the north or the south entrances, you find yourself in a spacious open area illuminated by sunlight reflecting the colors used in the stained glass window which stretches from the top arch almost to the floor. The beauty invites a thorough study of each panel depicting the history of this local church and the UCC.
Looking around, you will notice two accessible bathrooms, each with a diaper changing station, with a third “family bathroom” located downstairs.
“Pilgrim Centre” is a modern, spacious room with skylights and windows along its south exposure. It is equipped with a snack bar and a speaker system allowing occupants to participate in services occurring in the sanctuary. It is commonly used for Bible study, meetings, overflow crowds from weddings and funerals, family celebrations, and private consultations.
From this level you can use the elevator or take the central staircase to ascend to the sanctuary. This accessibility project was completed in 1999.
The sanctuary is built “theater style” (with the floor higher in the back, slanting toward the altar). The curved oak pews are adorned by red cushions to accentuate the red carpet isle runners. The sanctuary easily seats 230-240 people. The sanctuary’s beauty is enhanced by four stained glass windows on the north wall (two typical of Medieval Art from 1500-700 BC, dedicated in the mid-1930’s and two typical of the Romance Period 476-1100 AD dedicated in the mid-1940’s). The south wall is adorned with two additional stained glass windows also from the Romance Period, dedicated in 1945.
The high-arched ceiling directs one’s attention toward the altar. Centered above the altar is a rose window depicting the Twenty-third Psalm in oak-framed stained glass panes.
The chancel area is raised; the pulpit and altar are surrounded by decorative oak panels and railings. This change in decor was influenced by the Scottish background of our minister in the 1940’s. In 2007, most of the railing was removed leaving only aesthetically pleasing trim. Wide oak steps were added to give an inviting “openness” to the altar area.
At the rear of the sanctuary is a balcony which accommodates choir and organ.
There is a Chapel area to the south, open to the main sanctuary. The arch on the south wall frames two large frosted glass windows, each with an etched cross in the center. There is recent interest in returning this space to its original purpose.
In the 1950’s a two-story addition was connected to the south and west end of the church. This was used entirely for Christian Education for many years. A portion of the upper level now contains the Pastor’s and Church Secretary’s offices; the other portion houses a multiage Children’s Learning Center.
The basement contains a large dining room and modern kitchen facility, an overflow/multipurpose/ craft room, family bathroom and several storage areas.