Meet Our People
Rev. Benjamin Graves
Greetings! I’m Ben (though I’ll answer to “Pastor Ben” or “Rev. Graves” if you want to give me a title). I was born in Decatur, Illinois, went to elementary school in New York City, and moved to Kent, Ohio, when I was 10 years old. I grew up in the faith at Kent Presbyterian and Late-Night Christian Fellowship at Kent State. After some floundering in my college years, I found that I loved leading Bible studies and helping people understand Scripture, and that I was good at it. So I pursued ministry, going back to college to prepare for Seminary. I met my wife, Karen, at Kent Presbyterian, and we married two months before moving to Pittsburgh so I could attend Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. While there, I focused my studies on Pastoral Theology. I served Christ Church Presbyterian in Youngstown, from 2009 to 2015. While there, Karen and I had two beautiful sons. They love superheroes and trucks and pillow fights, and, with Karen, they are the light of my life and my highest calling under God.
Director of Faith Formation
Greetings to you in the name of Christ. I’m Aaron and the Director of Faith Formation here at Pioneer. My family and I come to you from Tennessee, so we bring with us a lot of pride and enthusiasm for the Volunteers and the Big Orange Family. I am an ordained minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and have served churches both in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the PC(USA) in various roles from Youth Minister to Director of Christian Education to Associate Pastor. My role here at Pioneer is to work and serve alongside all the children, youth and adults as we continue embark on a journey of faith. I also work with the children and families that are a part of the Pioneer Preschool and host a chapel service for them twice a month called Wee Worship. I really enjoy serving the greater church by being a part of boards, planning teams, and as a contract worker for youth ministry camps and conferences like Montreat Youth Conferences, Presbyterian Youth Triennium, ARW and the Cumberland Presbyterian Youth Conference. Since moving to NE Ohio I have become involved in the community by coaching with the Twinsburg AYSO and Basketball leagues, serving as a volunteer coach with The First Tee of Cleveland, and taking up karate lessons with my son. I enjoy being outdoors and taking adventures with my children (Paxton and Elyn), playing sports, attending concerts, trying new restaurants and local attractions. I will take any and all suggestions of what to take in and explore in the greater Cleveland area.
Peggy has been part of Pioneer Church since she joined the staff in 1998. She leaps tall buildings, heals the sick, and has even been known to walk on water. Whether it is a warm greeting on the telephone or the smiles and hugs from the Preschool kids, Peggy is always a welcoming presence at Pioneer.
A big part of why things always look so good around Pioneer is because of Anthony's work. Always smiling and cheerful, Anthony is a great asset to our staff team. He has been part of the Pioneer staff since 1998. In addition to taking care of the church facilites, Anthony works for United Parcel Service.
Pioneer is blessed by many volunteers, including Jack Erkkila who serves as our Building Engineer. There is always some project or problem associated with church buildings, and Jack handles each of them with skill, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. Working with a great team of other volunteers, Jack always has projects in process. Jack is a retired mechanical engineer.
Sue Mowry, Jill Kopitke and Tricia Thompson
Pioneer Preschool has three capable directors who are dedicated to maintaining a program that encourages children to develop spiritually, socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively.