Vanguard University mourns the loss of Dr. Sherilyn Rae Benvenuti

Vanguard University mourns the loss of Dr. Sherilyn Rae Benvenuti, who went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 8, 2017. Sheri served God passionately, loved generously, lived joyfully and took great delight in her students. Her larger-than-life spirit embraced all those around her.

An Assemblies of God minister for over 45 years, Sheri’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ compelled her to present the Gospel from a practical, “everyday life” perspective. Since age 18, she chose to serve the Body of Christ through evangelistic, youth, music and pastoral ministry, and was renown as a compelling speaker at churches, conferences, seminars and retreats.

Most of all, the extended Vanguard University community will remember Sheri as a beloved force upon campus who pursued her goal of exalting the name of Jesus with conviction, truth and joy. She began her long association with Vanguard University as a student, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1989 and a Master of Arts in 1992 both in Religion, Biblical Studies before attaining a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California in 2000.

After serving as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs at Life Pacific College in San Dimas, California, she returned to Vanguard University to teach Social Ethics in 1995 – a cherished role she held until her passing.  Also, Sheri served as the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs at Vanguard University from 2001 to 2005.

In addition to her vital investment into the lives of students, Sheri further contributed to the community by cofounding in 2003 the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University.  She envisioned the Center as an opportunity within the academic context to promote gender reconciliation and the inherent dignity of all people through the active engagement of redemptive Kingdom principles.

Sheri also wrote and published the book, “When Life Happens: An Honest Look at the Stuff That Comes Along,” in 2010. In this inspirational, faith-based memoir, Sheri encouraged readers to embrace the ups and downs of life by relaying biblical insights from the experiences of King David.  With laughter, as well as tears, Sheri offered a vision for how to live faithfully when “life happens.”

Sheri was born on August 6, 1952 in Upland, California. She is survived by “sisters of her heart” Sandy Wilson and April Westbrook; “children of her heart” Carlos Fernandez and Linda Hartzell Schubring; her brother Thomas E. Benvenuti, Jr.; nephews Anthony Benvenuti and Johnathan Benvenuti; niece Nicole Allison; and great niece Saxon Benvenuti.

A memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, at Newport Mesa Church on the campus of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William J. Seymour Endowed Scholarship at Vanguard University, established by Dr. Sheri Benvenuti in 2005 to support increasing diversity in the Vanguard University student body.

To make a gift in Dr. Benvenuti’s memory, please visit: