BENN, REV. LUTHER (28 Oct. 1910-15 Aug. 1993) was the founder of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in CLEVELAND HTS., known as a place where the hungry could go to get food and clothing. Benn was noted for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible and he was often sought out for advice on secular as well as religious matters.
Born in Dry Branch, GA., Benn joined the Navy in 1932. Trained as a cook, he was promoted to officer's chef. Benn sailed across the Atlantic Ocean 19 times and around the world seven times. Benn left the Navy in 1937 and moved to New York City. In 1941 Benn moved to Cleveland, taking a foundry job with Republic Steel Corp., from which he retired in 1973.
In June 1941 Benn joined Second Mount Sinai Baptist Church, where he became a deacon and taught Sunday school. He took courses with Moody Bible Institute and Cedarville Baptist College and was ordained as a minster in 1950.
Benn served as pastor of Second Mount Zion Junior Church for two years, before founding the St. John Missionary Baptist Church with seven members. They held their first service in a funeral home at E. 46th St. and Cedar Ave. in 1953. Two years later, the congregation moved to a basement on E. 100th St. and built a church on the site. St. John Missionary Baptist Church disbanded with Benn's death.
Rev. Benn married Estella Moss in 1934. They had a son, Bernard. Benn lived in CLEVELAND HTS. His remains were shipped to Macon, Georgia.