Pilgrim was born to two Christian hippie parents in the late 70‘s. At age 4 he made a decision for Christ and repented of his deep 4-year stint of sin and depravity. Raised in a Christian home, Pilgrim learned of and followed Jesus through his childhood and teen years. In youth group at age 13 Pilgrim made a profession of faith and desire to follow Jesus into full-time ministry.
In high school Pilgrim’s parents were divorced and he began to question life and his faith. He moved during his senior year to a new high school and there began a spiritual quest, visiting a different church denomination every week and reading books on philosophy and theology and atheism. Pilgrim accepted a full academic scholarship to Georgia Southern University in 1996 and that summer began to renounce his Christian faith. On a chance visit to his family the week before college started in the fall, he came to Bradenton where his mother and grandparents and extended family lived. Their audacious and attractive faith in Christ rocked Pilgrim’s world. He returned to Statesboro, GA and one night was so radically impacted that he gave up his scholarship, sold everything he owned, loaded his car, and drove to Bradenton to repent and give his entire life to Christ.
Within a few years Pilgrim was teaching Sunday school for teens and challenging them not to abandon their faith in high school. He began teaching at a youth group at Calvary Chapel Sarasota and it was at this church that Pilgrim began learning about the grace of God, as his mentor Pastor Carl Dixon was teaching verse-by-verse through the book of Galatians. A few months before his engagement to his childhood family best friend Jenny, the couple sought Jesus for their future. Pilgrim stayed the weekend camping alone in a tent and believed God was calling him into full-time ministry as a pastor, to marry Jenny, to pursue God’s call to the nations, and to proclaim the Gospel to the next generation.
After marrying Jenn in 2000, the newlyweds packed up all their belongings and moved to Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, CA in 2001-2002. Pilgrim was invited that summer back to Calvary Chapel Sarasota to become the Youth Pastor and Jenn became the Office Manager. For 8 years Pilgrim served alongside the pastoral staff and ministered to students in Sarasota/Bradenton. It was during that time that Pilgrim and Jenn had Aiden (12) and London (9), their two children. In 2007 God began stirring the Benham family to step out in faith and begin a new church plant. They didn’t know where, but God began to clearly shape Tampa as their destination. In November 2009 they moved to Tampa and in March 2010 planted Reality Church Tampa (now named Calvary Chapel South Tampa).
God continues to build His kingdom in Tampa as Pastor Joe Harris is now continuing the work at Calvary South Tampa. Pilgrim and Joe are partnering together to plant/support new Calvary Chapel churches in Western Florida. Pilgrim is also a mentor and blog contributor for the Calvary Church Planter's Network.
Pastor Pilgrim’s heart is to be a catalyst for church planting efforts in the Tampa Bay region and beyond. We believe greater things are coming for our region and that the Spirit of God has His hand and favor on Pilgrim’s life and God desires to do a new thing that we can’t perceive or comprehend. Jesus receives all the glory!