This page includes the biographies of current trustees and a list of past trustees of Historic Hopewell Church. To contact Historic Hopewell Church and any of the trustees, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Simpson President since 2021
Bob Simpson has lived his entire life in Israel Township on a farm that has been in his family for over 200 years. On cold winter days, when the trees have shed all their leaves, he can see Historic Hopewell Church from his window. His great-great grandfather was Reverend Porter, the first official pastor of Historic Hopewell Church. His family has continued to stay involved with the church ever since its inception. He has been going to the church for as long as he can remember. From 1915 to early 1960s, the church hosted a yearly service for all of its members. Bob Simpson remembers going to those services with his family along with the descendants of other founding members of Historic Hopewell Church.
He has seen the church’s evolution from facilitating a vibrant community for local residents to almost being demolished. His parents served on the committee founded in the 1960s that was dedicated to preserving the building. At a point in time, services were held in the front lawn of the church because the building was considered structurally unsound. Bob Simpson used to help his grandmother set up chairs and pass leaflets during these services. He has served as Vice President of the Church for the past 20 years. He helped oversee the renovation of the church when the floors and windows were replaced in 1999. Hopewell Church has served as Bob’s historic hobby. He has done extensive research about the founding of the church, its relationship with Native Americans and the Underground Railroad, and its connections with other churches. His favorite part about Historic Hopewell Church is the way the music fills the old building during church services. At church events he is often joined by his wife, son, and daughter.
Terry Willis Vice President since 2021
Today, Terry is a retired registered nurse, but when he was a kid, he was fascinated by old things and liked to collect them. He drove a 1940 Ford in high school, and when he lived on his own, he bought older homes and refurbished them. This lifelong mission of preservation was so innate to him that when he learned about Historic Hopewell Church he was eager to get involved.
Terry loves the feeling of worship in a church that has hosted hundreds of years of services, and he loves that the space today gets used by so many people from different places. One of his favorite aspects of the church grounds is the cemetery, which has been protected and preserved by its proximity to the church for all these years. It’s amazing to him that the original pastor was buried in that cemetery, and you can see the generations of church-goers buried next to their church.
His mission is to preserve this piece of history, so that the church and all the stories of the people who have been touched by the church will live on for future generations.
Gary Salmon Secretary since 2005
Gary Salmon got involved with Historic Hopewell in 2005 when he attended his first service with the church. His family’s connection with the church, however, goes much deeper. His great-grandfather was the last session leader of the church and his grandmother’s family was involved with the church until it closed in 1915. His great aunt and uncle helped with the restoration of the church. His great-grandfather, grandmother, and much of his extended family are buried in the cemetery behind the church. The church is a part of his family history and the history of the region, since the church was involved in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad.
Gary decided to serve on the Board to preserve his family’s rich relationship with Historic Hopewell. During his tenure as Secretary to the Board, the church celebrated its bicentennial anniversary and received the State of Ohio Historic Marker installed on site. He loves listening to the services in the old church building with the windows open and being able to hear the birds chirping. In addition to his involvement with Historic Hopewell Church, Gary is an Operations Associate for Harvest Land Cooperative. He also serves as an Oxford Township Trustee and a Director for the Ohio Township Association. He and his wife have two daughters and two grandsons.
John Wright Treasurer since 2010
John Wright was born and continues to live on a farm in Israel Township that is about a half mile away from Historic Hopewell Church. His relationship with Historic Hopewell is generations old. His ancestors were some of the founding members of the church over 200 years ago and his family has been involved ever since. In his time as treasurer, he has seen the doors and windows of the church be replaced. He attends the summer services and loves the people that he meets. He is joined with his family, son, and daughter. In addition to his service to the Historic Hopewell Church, for the past 25 years, John has served as a trustee for Israel Township where he supervised the cemetery adjacent to Historic Hopewell Church. He also serves as the Fiscal Officer for Israel Township. When he is not serving the community, he loves to hike and kayak in the forests of southwestern Ohio.
Gregory Peck Trustee since 2013
Gregory Peck was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Harrison, Ohio. When Greg moved to Preble County in 1995, he and his wife bought the historic house next door to the Historic Hopewell Church. His home was made out of the same bricks used to build the original structure of the church. He currently lives on his farm that borders Historic Hopewell Church with his wife and granddaughter.
As a neighbor of the church, Greg feels very protective of the building and its history. Members of the church joke that nobody would come trespass on the church property, because Greg would come out and scare them off. Through attending summer services at Historic Hopewell, Greg found the church he is a member of now, Fairhaven Community Church, one of the daughter churches of Historic Hopewell. Summer services at Historic Hopewell Church are still one of his favorite parts of the church, because Christian groups of varying beliefs come together to share the space and worship together.
In his time as a member Greg has seen all the major renovations the church has undergone, including adding heat, a new pulpit, windows, sound system, and flooring. For him, it’s rewarding to be a trustee of a church so old-- as he would say, it was something important to build in 1808, and something still important to protect now.
Greg has been a machinist his whole life, and he also loves horses and riding his motorcycle.
Bob Eshleman Trustee since 2019
Bob Eshleman has been living in Southwest Ohio since he started working at the Dayton Air Force Base in 2005. In 2015, he learned about the Historic Hopewell Church through his Church’s events. Every year, his church partakes in the annual Christmas service at Historic Hopewell, which is one of his favorite events.
In his time with Hopewell Church, he has seen the windows repaired and replaced and the sound system repaired after it broke. During one of the Christmas services, the sound system blew out. Due to the high spirit and enthusiasm of the attendees, the service continued and everyone sang just a little bit louder. The acoustics in the Church are amazing and the music from the all-female group Something Good and the Fairhaven church choir brought the Christmas spirit that year, even without a sound system.
Bob finds that whenever he brings someone new to visit the church, it brings about a feeling of awe for the historical significance. He believes we should always keep history in the back of our minds. To him, the Historic Hopewell Church is a reminder that a lot of good things happened in history, not just bad. Historic Hopewell was a part of the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to Canada. He is merely part of an ongoing legacy of people who came to this area and did a lot to change the world.
Sue Cornthwaite Trustee since 2020
Sue and her husband, Ted, have called their family farm east of Camden in Somers Township home since 1979. Ted is a lifelong farmer. Sue is a former registered nurse who quit nursing in 2017 after 38 years to focus more on her other passion, buying distressed residential real estate, renovating it, and reselling it. Sue brings to the board of trustees her passion for preservation and renovation of buildings and her love for Historic Hopewell Church.
Sue’s first encounter with the church was several years ago when she attended the wedding of a family member there. She says “I was just amazed by the church; its age, its history, its beauty and wonderful condition. Then I began to ponder just how many weddings this old church has seen over its many years of service, probably hundreds if not more.” Sue and Ted are now members of Fairhaven Community Church. After they began attending Fairhaven Community Church on a regular basis in 2017, they learned more about the history of Hopewell and how the Fairhaven Church is a daughter church to Hopewell, and they discovered Historic Hopewell’s summer services. Sue really appreciates how the church provides a beautiful place for people to worship when they are visiting Hueston Woods.
Sue offers her thanks for the opportunity to serve and hopes to be a valuable asset to the board, and, most importantly, she hopes her service brings glory to the Lord.
Former Hopewell Trustees since 2003
Gilbert Hill 2003-2004 Meryl McCampbell 2003-2004 Jim Brown 2003-2005 Virgil Otto 2003-2005 Cornelia Browne 2003-2006 Jim Mitchell 2003-2006 Laura Cohen 2004-2010 Jim Hart 2004-2010 Ernest Wengler 2005-2006 Jill Rader 2006-2008 John Ittel 2006-2013 Joe Costa 2006-2009 Mary Costa 2009-2012 Dennis Hays 2009-2018 Lauren Marsh 2012-2015 Don Jackson 2008-2021