|Cambridge – The Rev. Dr. Craig Lee Bensen went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ unexpectedly at his home in the early hours of Sunday, November 8, 2020. He was 72 years old.|
Craig and a twin sister Charlene (Bensen) Sundheim, who predeceased him, were born in Keene, NH on August 11, 1948 to Harold and Eleanor (Brugge) Bensen, both of whom are deceased. He was raised in South Burlington, graduating from South Burlington High School in 1965 and attending the University of Vermont from which he earned a B.A in 1970.
Answering a call to Christian ministry, Craig attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) in South Hamilton, MA, where he earned his M. Div. in 1973 and was ordained into the United Church of Christ. He later pursued and was awarded a D. Min. from GCTS in 1993. It was on that school’s campus he met his wife and ministry partner, Deborah Lee (Robertson) Bensen, who survives him.
The couple were married in Gloucester, MA in 1974, after which they moved to Cambridge, VT to pastor the Cambridge United Church (now Cambridge Christian Fellowship), which he served for 35 years, and to raise two children: Amanda Lee (Bensen) Fiegl, who pre-deceased him in 2017, and Benjamin Edward Bensen.
Beyond denominational ties, Craig was commissioned as an Apostle by other Christian apostles and prophets to lay foundations of prayer and ministry in Vermont. Craig was widely-regarded for his Christian and civic leadership throughout the State, beginning with representation of the national Biblical Witness Fellowship at his local church. In 1982, he headed local coordination for the Rev. Billy Graham’s visit to Vermont. He was associated with pioneering or supporting many pastoral prayer and ministerial outreaches, including the National Day of Prayer, Vermont Arise, Women’s Aglow, Christian Ministries Network, and in recent years with his wife, as a New England representative for both the Reformation Prayer Network and Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network.
Additionally, he served on the Vermont Apostolic Council as well as the New England Alliance. Craig was impassioned with a lifelong vision to see the Kingdom of God made manifest and honored throughout Vermont. To that end, he was exceptionally gifted at building unity across denominational lines of Christian leaders with remarkable grace. His compassion and wit were surpassed only by his humility.
Craig was very active in Vermont’s political community, advising conservative groups and testifying before the State Legislature on a number of conservative issues dealing with sexuality, the sanctity of human life, and religious liberty. He ran for, but lost, a bid for the State Senate in 2004.
Along with family noted above, Craig leaves behind a granddaughter Eleanor Fiegl and her father Charles Fiegl of Silver Spring, MD; daughter-in-law Ilse (Minnie) Bensen and grandchildren Anabel, Danielle and Eliyah Bensen of Fort Mill, SC; brother Clark Bensen and his wife Cynthia, of East Corinth, VT; brother-in-law Robert Sundheim of Hudson, NY; and nieces Amy Hathway (Bill), Catherine Peck (Jason), Meredith Calabrese (Mark), Stafford Bensen (Jeffery Grover), Cheryl Robertson, and Deborah Robertson (Thomas Chwalek).
Due to COVID 19 restrictions, no funeral arrangements are planned. Instead, a memorial service will be held next spring at a date to be determined. Condolences may be extended to the family by mailing to P.O. Box 299, Cambridge, VT 05444-0299, and via a funeral home website TBA. Contributions in support of Craig’s memory, to support the family’s needs at this time may be made out using this Go Fund Me link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/craig-bensen-memorial-help-deb-amp-ben?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1
Thumbnail and cover photo: Pastor Craig Bensen (center) with Pastor Rick Menard (left) and Vermont Daily editor Guy Page. The latter attended Cambridge United Church for eight years of Bensen’s lengthy pastorate there.