History of Our Church

In the early 1800s Methodists in central Ohio worshiped in their cabin homes or in barns.

In 1805 Rev. James Quinn organized the Hopewell society in Ezekiel Groom's log house. The Groom property was later owned by Kate Decker. The Hopewell society was known for many years as "Groom's Class." It is believed to be one among the first (perhaps the very first) church organizations in Madison township, Franklin County.

Members of Groom's Class were: Ezekiel and Rhoda Groom and their daughters, Mary and Sarah; William Bush and his wife Nancy; and Mrs. Nancy Burton and her daughters Lucy and Betsy.

The first Hopewell church building was built on property that Ezekiel and Rhoda Groom sold to the society in about 1819. The frame building was erected about a quarter mile up the creek from the present church at the old Hopewell graveyard. The deed is dated June 19, 1819 for twenty dollars in specie to Charles Rarey, Alexander Cameron, and Adam Havely of Franklin county, and Shadrack Cole, William Brown, Daniel Ranier, and David Morris of Pickaway county, trustees. This building was used until 1844. On December 22, 1852, Thomas Groom, Ezekiel's son, was given permission to take away the old church. It was reported that Isaac Rainier tore it down.

In 1844 Michael Ebright, father of Mrs. John F. (Allie) Rainier, built a new church near what is now London-Lancaster Road and near Little Walnut Creek Bridge. The church served until 1901 when a remodeling took place under the pastorate of Rev. J.F. Grimes. The reopening of the church was on January 26, 1902 with Rev. J.C. Arbuckle.

In 1917 under the pastorate of Rev. Charles A. Hughes it became necessary to move the church to its present location to accomodate a road-straightening program when the covered bridge by the church collapsed. A church basement was added and other improvements were made.

The Sabbath school (Sunday School) was organized in 1823 or 1824 with George W. Glaze serving as the first superintendent.

The Groveport Methodist Episcopal church, an offspring of the Hopewell and Asbury classes, was organized in 1835 or 1836.

In April 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged. Hopewell's name changed to Hopewell United Methodist Church.

In the spring of 1970 final plans were approved for a 2300 square foot additon to the church. Money for this project was secured through a loan from the Citizens Bank of Ashville. Richard Foreman of Smith-Dodson Lumber Company completed the work. The much needed addition provided eight rooms for Sunday School Classes, two restrooms and a utility room. It was decided to move the main entrance from the left front to the center of the church. Lyle Ackerman cleaned the boards and used colored glass from old windows to make the hanging lights for the sanctuary. A program and carry-in dinner on September 30, 1973 celebrated the mortgage burning. In 1980-1981 substantial renovations were again made.

In November 1990 an elevator lift was constructed on the west side of the church making the church handicap accessible. This was made possible from money received from the Ed Marotzka auction and money donated by Betty Smith.

On April 30, 1998 the church memorial scholarship fund was established in honor of deceased members. The scholarship continues to give financial support to Hopewell's young members who are continuing their education beyond high school.

In 2005 Hopewell celebrated its bicentennial with special activities each month. On April 2 a reception dinner was held at the Canal Winchester Senior Center to honor former pastor, Rev. James W. Moore and his wife June. Rev. Moore had served Hopewell and Lithopolis Churches while he was a seminary student from 1960-1964.

On October 2, 2005, Rev. Charles Muller, welcomed Dr. Bruce Ough, Bishop of the West Ohio Conference to celebrate our 200 years. Dr. Ough presented the morning message. A catered dinner followed the service and the new "Hopewell History 1805-2005" was given to those present. The Hopewell History is available to read in the church library. It includes many historical pictures.

On February 12, 2006 Hopewell celebrated Rev. Charles Muller's retirement with a video, skits, special music and a dinner. Rev. Muller served Hopewell for 20 years. His wife Brenda began the Mission Year Round program.

Pastor Phyllis Riggs served as Hopewell's interim pastor. Then on July 2, 2006 Hopewell welcomed our first full-time minister, Pastor Tina Dietsch. Communion became a monthly celebration, and Bibles were put in all the pews and used during services. The church put more emphasis on Methodist Church Discipline policy and procedures that resulted in the creation of the Council of Ministries in addition to the Administration Board. Many new committees were formed. A new lay leader, Taye Moody, was chosen and certified. Pastor Tina and Taye did mission service in the Dominican Republic and Russia, teaching poor children. Pastor Tina and Joe Fox invited the Hopewell congregation to their February 14, 2009 wedding at David Lutheran Church in Canal Winchester. They chose David Lutheran because Hopewell was too small to accommodate all of their guests. Joe worked with Pastor Tina and was especially active in the church Youth Ministry. Pastor Tina left Hopewell to go to her new assignment at Eastview United Methodist Church in Whitehall in June 2010. We welcomed our current minister, Pastor Barbara Wood Salyers, as our minister on June 27, 2010.

Submitted by Ruth Eberts, church Historian