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 new Director of Faith Formation here at Pioneer. I’m looking forward to my role here to work and serve alongside all of the children, youth and adults as we continue on this journey of faith. My family and I come to you from east and southern-middle Tennessee and are very excited to be a part of the family and community here in NE Ohio. I am 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. I've also had the opportunity to serve both denominations ecumenically at higher levels 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. I actually met my wife (Mary Kate) because of my involvement with youth ministry camps and conferences. Our children, Paxton (5) and Elyn (2) keep us on our toes and are continually growing and changing right before our eyes. I enjoy being outdoors and taking adventures with the family, playing sports, attending concerts, trying new restaurants and local attractions. We 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.
Interim Preschool Director
Sue has been a part of Pioneer Christian Preschool since it opened it's doors in 1983! In addition to many years of teaching, Sue's children and grandchildren are graduates of the program. Recently, Sue agreed to serve as the Interim Director for the 2017-18 school year. Her experience as both teacher and parent are a great foundation for success!