Bennett Donnell, Sr., son of the late Clarence and Gladys Donnell was born on October 14, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2005, Bennett was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. After enduring rounds of chemotherapy, he went into remission. In 2015, he succumbed to related illnesses and departed this life.
Bennett recieved his early education in the Melrose Park, Montgomery County School Systems.
After a tour of duty in the Air Force, Bennett worked for the Bourroughs Company. Later, he became an insurance agent with North Carolina Mutual.
As an agent, two other men with the company who were Christians influenced him and as a result, Bennett accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He attended Deliverance Evangelistic Church of Philadelphia where Rev. Benjamin Smith was the pastor.
In 1975, Bennett married the former Jean Elizabeth Downey and in 1977 they moved to Baltimore.
In December of 1981, he & Jean founded The Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church. They later incorporated the church with Faith Christian Fellowship of Tulsa, Oklahoma under the leadership of Dr. Doyle and Mrs. Pat Harrison. He and Jean both became ordained ministers with Faith Christian Fellowship. The church became known as Faith Christian Fellowship of East Baltimore.
Having a desire to increase his spiritual knowledge, Bennett attended The Baltimore School of The Bible.
The ministry of Pastors Mack and Brenda Timberlake, a couple from North Carolina who ministered together internationally, impressed Bennett. He and Jean joined their ministerial organization. Bennett would often pattern his ministry after the Timberlakes by team teaching with Jean. For almost 20 years, the couple co-hosted a popular Baltimore radio show.
Bennett was an exhorter. HIs conversations were always sprinkled with Godly wisdom. Bennett touched hundreds of lives. He touched with his love, his laughter and above all, his faith. Many considered him as their role model and father in the ministry. He was a gifted and sought out counselor, a generous man, who was always giving to others.
Bennett was a voracious reader, and always carried a bag of books with him. He was also an avid boxing fan. Bennett was a weightlifter and throughout his life, he worked out at the gym three times weekly. He loved Big Band music by Benny Goodman and Bix Beiderbecke. He would allow himself one hour a week to relax and listen to this music.
He and Jean enjoyed traveling to different parts of the country, or simply to New York to see a Broadway pley.
Bennett could be transparent, and often preached using his own life experiences such as childhood traumas, or past mistakes as an example to help others.
When he sensed that the Lord was going to call him home, he wrote brief final notes of love and atonement to his children, his church, and his wife.
Bennett and Jean have two grown children, Joy & Bennett Jr., and two grandaughters, Nyla and Reagan - a son in law, Chris Hill, and daughter in law, Teresa Donnell.