Church expansion project takes on new meaning

Published 10:26 am Friday, December 15, 2017

by Steph Wood

What was once to be named the Rock Church Life Center, the expansion project at the Rock Church has taken on a new name and a new meaning. The Ben S. Dillon Life Center will now be not just a building, but also an opportunity for the spirit of one worthy servant and well-loved man, to be honored for years and years to come, expounding on a legacy steeped in faith, love, hard-work and God.

The center will be a multi-purpose center for the enhancement and enrichment of the community, the Rock Church and the Rock Church School. The vision for the life center began in 2004 through conversations between Pastor Danny Dillon and his late brother, Ben. Over the course of the next 10 years the two would dream about the center and what it would be like.

“I carried around blueprints in my Bible,” said Danny.

As 2016 began, the dream would become tangible. The church leadership, along with the full support of the congregation, pressed forward to begin raising money for the project. No one could have imagined that a little over a year later, the project would take on a new meaning for the community, the church and the Dillon family.

On Monday, June 12, 2017, Ben Dillon, 43, passed away leaving behind his wife, Micah, and two small children, Stone, 7, and Stella, 5. He is also survived by his parents, David and Patty Dillon, his sister Tate Balance, and his brother Danny, who is now the pastor of the Rock Church of Franklin.

Ben was born and raised in Franklin, graduated from the Rock Church School, and was an avid athlete playing basketball and soccer for the school and in travel leagues. He then attended Paul D. Camp Community College for a brief period prior to serving a year-long mission in Bolivia. While there, Ben played on the Bolivian National Basketball Team. He then came back to the states and joined Danny at Liberty University. He continued to play sports and walked-on the track team (high jump) and the basketball team. Ben graduated, alongside Danny, from Liberty in 1997. Immediately, Ben became the principal of the Rock Church School in the fall of 1997 where he remained until his untimely death.

David Dillon, founding pastor and father to Ben, said he feels like this center is the “fulfillment of a dream. The Rock Church has been in existence for over 42 years and it is time for this project.

“A center like this takes things to a whole new level, improves our capacity to serve God, and will be a huge welcome mat to the community. It represents additional meanings now that Ben has ‘jumped over.’  “It represents the continuation of a legacy and a chance for Ben to live on,” he added.

Mr. Dillon, who has stepped in to fill the role of the Rock Church School principal and high school supervisor, is gaining his footing. “It has been curative and an honor…it was what Ben wanted, to see the school perpetuate and grow,” he added.

By all accounts, Ben Dillon consistently and quietly went about serving God and the Rock Church School. He is missed sorely, not just at the school but also by his father, his family and his children.

“I miss his source of energy and dependability,” Mr. Dillon said. He also misses their talks about nothing and staff meetings where they said very little.

“We would stare at each other and wouldn’t have much to say but we communicated on deep levels,” he said smiling. “Losing Ben was the shock of a lifetime, but we will get through it. We are worshippers, we worship in the tough times and in the good times. You can not release the embrace of God when things get hard, you have to squeeze harder and hang on tighter.”

Stone and Stella miss their dad very much. Many have referred to him as somewhat of a Super Dad and, when I talked with Stone, I could see that he was very proud of his daddy.

“I want to be a principal just like my daddy,” Stone said, “I am excited to play basketball in the center and worship there too,” he added.

For Danny, he has lost his best friend. He lost his confidant, his go-to-guy. Undoubtedly, as younger brothers often do, Danny wanted to make his brother proud and looks forward to building the Ben S. Dillon Center to honor him.

“I want his memory to live on doing what he always did, serve others,” he said.

Above all else, the Dillons and the Rock Church want to bless the community and help them do what is most valuable in their hearts, to spend time with their children. Helping the community is something they feel very strongly about, not only in the winning of souls for Christ, but also in the everyday struggles that plague the community such as lack of facilities and options for families to spend time together.

Recently, leaders from the Rock Church of Franklin met with Mayor Frank Rabil to discuss the Ben S. Dillon Life Center, scheduled to open late next year.

“The Life Center will be a great resource for our community,” said Rabil. “It will help us in many ways,” he added.

The Life Center will be “90 percent center and 10 percent church” as Danny put it. It will serve the community in the way of sports, fitness, wellness, health, education and technology. It will also serve as practice and game facilities for the Rock Church School sports teams. Lastly, the Rock Church will hold services in the facility allowing for the “barn” sanctuary to be used for the school and its growing enrollment.

“We are outgrowing our sanctuary also and we really want to make room for the lost,” he said.

All of which is what Ben wanted. He worked tirelessly to grow the school and church and served in any capacity needed. His wife Micah continues to serve as worship leader among other initiatives.

Following his death, there was no doubt among any of the Rock Church leadership or congregation that the center should be named the Ben S. Dillon Life Center.

“It just was something that we all knew was the right thing, without question,” said Danny.

Over 800 people attended Ben’s funeral. People of all walks of life, races and church affiliations worshipped together and honored him. This is a testimony to how he lived. His life was immersed in the Rock Church, in the children and the families of the school, the congregation, and the community. He was a faithful servant and a good steward of God’s blessings. It is only right that the center should take his name. It is fitting that his legacy somehow live on and live in the walls and floors and in the spirit of the children and families who will, undoubtedly, be transformed in that place.

If you would like to donate to this project, visit or download the Rock Church of Franklin App and go to the Giving Icon for the Ben S. Dillon Life Center. Donations can also be mailed to Lakeview Youth and Family Enterprise, 130 Lakeview Road, Franklin, VA 23851.

STEPH WOOD is with 2Give Management LLC. Contact her at 742-1417 or