Feltman living his dream and enjoying life
by Paula Bean
Benjamin Davis Feltman, choir director at Middle Cross Baptist Church, was raised in Newnan, Georgia. Benny’s parents, Gene and Sandra Feltman, had three girls before Benny was born.
“I am the baby. Yes, still the baby. I’m a Mommy’s boy and I was born on Mother’s Day,” says Benny. “My oldest sister is Laura, and then I have twin sisters, Ronda and Wanda.
“It was a challenge being the baby boy of three older sisters,” says Benny. “They dressed me up as a girl on Halloween one year, and I will never forget about the time they put me in the dryer and turned it on!”
Gene, Sandra, and Benny moved to Chattanooga in 1994.
He has been married to Briana since 2001. You can read Briana’s feature story to learn the details of their meeting at Middle Cross Baptist Church and their courtship, leading to their marriage. “When I turn on the charm, I’m irresistible,” Benny laughs.
Benny is blessed to attend Middle Cross Baptist Church with his wife, Briana, his mom and dad, his sister Ronda and Ronda’s children.
“I was raised by two wonderful Christian parents who had me singing in church when I was five years old.” Now 37 years old, Benny says he could sing in front of millions of people, thanks to his parent’s upbringing.
Benny’s dad, Gene, led many choirs over the years and “I have always looked up to him and have always wanted to be a choir director,” says Benny. “Now, Dad’s my assistant. The one thing that has stuck with me, that Dad taught me, was to build a house … you must build it one block at a time.”
Benny took conducting classes with his dad when he was 10 or 11 years old. “I saw my dad conduct lots of choirs,” says Benny. “I prayed a lot about being a choir director.”
Benny puts in many hours with the choir and he also teaches the Young Adult Sunday School class. Benny’s favorite Bible verses are John 3:36, Jeremiah 17:9, and Philippians 4:13. “I learned John 3:36 and Jeremiah 17:9 when I taught Awana’s years ago.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
“As I said, I was brought up in the church and thought I was saved; I was baptized as a child. After Briana and I married I told her one night that I was not sure I was saved,” says Benny. “I called my friend Ricky Kesley that night and spoke with him about my salvation. I call Ricky my ‘father in faith.’ I was baptized again at Middle Cross Baptist Church by former pastor Gary Shirley.”
In addition to singing, Benny played the trumpet when he was young. Recently, Benny took some piano lessons from Wilma Rogers at Middle Cross Baptist Church. Briana took piano lessons as a child and is now taking lessons from Dawn Moss, who is our guest pianist for a while. Briana is now our full-time piano player.
In his spare time, Benny likes to bowl, cook, draw and paint, and loves playing board games. “I took pastel portrait classes at Concord Baptist Church,” says Benny. “I also worked there for more than three years. “
When Gene, Sandra, and Benny moved to Chattanooga they all worked at Winn Dixie grocery store. “I trained more than 50 people to cook on a wok at Winn Dixie,” says Benny.
Benny works at Regis, a warehouse that distributes salon products. “I love my job. I pick the products and load them into boxes to be shipped,” says Benny. Benny has worked at Regis for nearly three years. Before working at Regis he worked at Associated Mechanical in heating and air.
Benny and Brianna have a cat named Boo and a new pug puppy named Cecil. They now live in Red Bank.
Benny has a great sense of humor — like announcing to the whole church that he would win the Biggest Loser Contest before it ever started. Benny didn’t win because he quit smoking the day the contest started, and he went on vacation during the contest. The church members who know Benny well predicted he tried to eat all the seafood in Florida. Benny ended up gaining one pound at the end of the contest. But, praise God, he is still smoke free. This blessing is better than winning the Biggest Loser Contest.
Some of the more interesting and fun things Benny has done in his life is being in a commercial for a window company, and he always wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Benny also was an extra in the movie Andersonville. “I was about 17 years old at the time and me and a friend worked as extras for $75 a day. Andersonville is a Civil War movie that was shot near LaGrange, Georgia. Unfortunately, most of the scenes I was in were cut from the movie. But, $75 a day was big money for us back then.”
Benny is also a big Georgia football fan.
Benny and Briana love all the members of Middle Cross Baptist Church, but are especially good friends with Steve and Dorothy Campbell.
Most importantly, Benny has great admiration for our pastor, Ed Gravett. Benny says, “Brother Ed is my mentor. He was my Sunday School teacher years ago. He is very compassionate, he gives his undivided attention to everyone he talks with. He is very encouraging, never judgmental, and he rationalizes every situation. We are a team and we feed off each other. I love him.”
Middle Cross Baptist Church is proud of Benny and his ever increasing dedication to the church.