Hopewell Church of God History (established in 1858)
(excerpts taken from the record of Pastor J. Koogle, 1908
transcribed by Pastor Terry A. Steinhauer Sr.)
In an old book is found the following note relative to the history of the
Church of God at Hopewell, Seneca County, Ohio.
The Church of God in the above named place was first organized in the year of our Lord, 1858. The foregoing note gives us no information whatever as to who was pastor when the organization was effected, nor who were the charter members that constituted it. The record referred to above does not give us the names of the members until the year 1868, just ten years after its organization. (said list will be found transcribed on first page for membership records.)
From the journal of the Ohio Eldership convened at Liberty Crawford Co. Ohio, A.D. 1859 we learn that Tiffin Station was represented by M. Coates Teaching Elder and W. Reeme, H. Creeger, G. Furley and B. Reeme Ruling Elders.This would indicate that the church was organized by Elder M. Coates. The following is a list of the names of ministers who have served Hopewell Church: (until 1907) M. Coates, J.Hickernell, G.W.Wilson, J.W. Sensney (spelling illegible) J.L.Yenner, M.C.Mowen, D.S. Warner, Thomas James, Solomon Kline, J.A.Smith, J.W.Aukerman, W.H.Oliver, W.P.Burchard, Joseph Neil, J.H.McNutt, J.M.Cassel, R.H.Bolton, S.Dickerhoof, G.A.Bartlebaugh, A.E.Kefford, W.H.Guyer, W.C.Myers, W.P.Small,, J.H.Yoders, J.Koogle.
The Ohio Eldership held its sessions at Hopewell Oct. 14th, 1861 and again Oct. 14th,1870.
The Present Building:
On the 8th day of February, 1888 the first special meeting was held for the purpose of taking the initial steps towards erecting a new house of worship. The meeting was organized by calling Elder G.A.Bartlebaugh then of Wooster, Oh. To the chair and Bro. W.F.Martin was elected Secretary. Bro. Martin declined to serve and Howard Kimmel was elected.
At this meeting the following persons were elected to act in the capacity of a business and building committee Viz Jackson Sager, W.H.King, Phillip Keppel, L.D.Creeger & H.W. Creeger, with Elder J.H.McNutt pastor as an advisory member. The committee elected H.W.Creeger as its chairman.
Here began a long hard fought battle which finally resulted in the completion of the now spacious Bethel known far and near as Hopewell Bethel. A monument to the earnest devotion to the cause of the Master and the indomitable determination to succeed on the part of all interested in its construction and completion.
Hopewell, like the children of Israel in the wilderness has had many camping places. Sometimes it stood alone as a mission, at times connected with Tiffin, then attached to Attica Circuit, then with New Washington, sometimes with Bloom Circuit, then with Risingsun and last with Fostoria until Feb. 8th, 1903 the writer of this record took charge of the work and has continued to the present time, Dec. 12th, 1907. The first protracted meeting the writer held here began Feb. 8th, 1903 and continued until March 5th. The visible results was one professed faith and one united with the church.
The second protracted meeting began December 1, 1903 and continued until the 22nd of same month without any visible results save that the church was revived and Christians strengthened. On the 14th of Jan. 1906 we began a special meeting that continued until Feb.14th, 1906 resulting in the conversion of 12 persons and 8 accessions, six were baptized later. Feb. 14th, 1907 we again began revival work at Hopewell which continued until March the 5th during which time two professed faith in Christ, one of which with five others who united by letter were fellowshipped.
Thus the work at Hopewell has stood amidst all its reverses and successes for nearly half a century and allows us to ask what is she going to do in 1908 in the way of celebrating her Semi centennial?
J. Koogle, (present pastor 1907)
On a warm day in July of 1858 at 2pm in a schoolhouse near the William Reeme home west of Tiffin, Ohio a group of likeminded people gathered together to listen attentively to the Elder Moses Coates preach the Gospel and everlasting message of the Word of God. From this nucleus of humanity came the life giving element that made the Hopewell Church a living, vital force for the spreading of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for one-hundred years.
These same people decided to hold a "Woods Meeting" which would begin on September 3rd of that year. This "Woods Meeting" was conducted near the center of Hopewell Township on a road leading from Tiffin to Fostoria on land owned by John H. Creeger. If inclement weather conditions prevailed this meeting was to be held in the house.
The records reveal that this "Woods Meeting" was regarded with great favor by the Elder Moses Coates. He was well pleased with the arrangements made and especially pleased with the erection of a "fine tent" by Brother Turley and Johnson, Alfred and Henry Keller, Mr. Silvers and Robison. A sizeable crowd was present to welcome Elder Moses Coates and others who were to help with the meeting.
Present for this meeting were Elders McCornic with a good talk, also the beloved John Winebrenner and Mr. and Mrs. McFadden.
John Winebrenner founder
of the Churches of God
References are made to the Mrs. McFadden as being a "hard worker" during these services. Quote: "There was a good feeling and grand spirits in the whole group. Houses, hearts, and purses were all open." Others present were Elders West, Resh, and R.H. Bolton who at the time served as the Western Missionary Representative. Twenty-one were converted, nine baptized, and twelve united with the church.
The second Eldership of Western Ohio convened in Findlay on September 16th, 1858. Just prior to this date the Hopewell congregation had been placed on the Carey circuit. This Eldership appointed a committee of three to purchase a building for the Hopewell congregation. This committee composed of Henry Creeger, B. Reeme, and J.A. Meyers decided to purchase a frame structure belonging to the Reformed Church and whose doors had been closed. The exact site is unknown; however it was located near the present building.
(The original Hopewell Bethel remains standing behind the brick barn on the
Dow & Evelynn Creeger farm across the street from the present building)
Just three years following the purchase of this building, on October 18th, 1861 the 14th annual Eldership of Western Ohio was opened at Hopewell with Elder D.S. Warner giving the opening sermon.
Hopewell at this time was on the Seneca Circuit with A. Kline as minister. Teaching Elders were A. Resh, M.C. Mowen, J.G. Kenner. Ruling Elders were J.K. Bolinger, A. Bolinger, and C.M. Funk. Advisory members during this session were brothers Updike, McNutt, Gune, and Henry Creeger. About this time there seems to be a church membership of 20 or so and a Sunday School membership of 40 or more. S. Dickerhoff seems to be the last minister in the frame church.
Hopewell grew through good and lean years to a stronger Church of God through the efforts of people of varying educational and religious training. The years of history reveal the fact that the church had more members of other faiths and religious backgrounds than of the Church of God.
By the year of 1888 the congregation desired a larger building to accommodate a growing attendance. Previous to this date a building committee was appointed consisting of George Keppel, L.D. Creeger, Henry Creeger, William King, Alice Crum, and Howard Kimmel. In collecting funds for this new church they went as far east as Attica and west to Fostoria. Contributions ranged from $1.00 to $100.00, with $1.00 being the most prevalent. Land donated by the name of Singer, who donated the land for as long as the church should stand. With much cooperation the present structure of the Hopewell Church of God was dedicated in the fall of 1888, this being the same year that our own Findlay College was dedicated.
At this time there were 45 to 50 in Sunday School attendance and a membership of around 20. This was a neighborhood church with many of the residents assisting in the labor and financing of the project. By this date Hopewell was changed from the Carey Circuit to a circuit including Risingsun, Evergreen, Bloom Center, and Peters.
Because of the falling off and disputing among the congregation, Hopewell closed her doors in 1917 to remain so until November of 1925. After being closed for 8 years the doors were reopened largely through the efforts of Mrs. Homer Dewald and Mrs. Russell Creeger who called on all in the neighborhood to solicit their help. This was done in response to the pleas of several faithful members, one of whom was Mrs. Catherine King who at this time was in poor health and did not want to depart from this life without having seen the church doors reopened. The neighborhood expressed the desire to see the reorganization of the Hopewell Church.
The Lever Brothers came and held one week of meetings. The Eldership stipulated that if an organized Sunday School was not held the following Sunday, the church building would be sold on the following Friday. The neighborhood was aroused and a Sunday School was organized with Cecil King elected as superintendent, with 4 teachers recruited from various walks of life. Borrowed quarterlies were used by the membership. A student pastor, Mr. Hawkins was sent every 2 weeks from Findlay College and received $10.00 each Sunday. In the fall of 1927 Reverends Frank and Ruth Turner were sent to take part in Hopewell's struggles. Under his guidance 6 more were added to the 4 original faithful members.
Rev. Turner was followed by Rev. W.F. Neff, John Constant Jr., Escil Heiser, John Yohe, Darrel Linder, Paul Gnagy, Hubert Miller, James Bennett, James McKenzie, and Harry Cole.
In 1952 the congregation with Rev. Hubert Miller saw the realization of their efforts in the modern constructed parsonage erected on the west side of the church. During the ministry of Rev. James Bennett plans were made for a sizable addition to the church containing classrooms, pastor's study, kitchen, and restrooms.
On September 1st, 1957 ground breaking ceremonies took place for the new addition and the following day the laymen of the church came with their equipment to fell three trees, thus making way for the construction which was completed by March largely through the combined efforts of the pastor, Rev. Harry Cole and laymen who graciously donated their time and labor.
In surmising this historical record one realizes that what we see today as we look at this place of worship has been given to us through the sacrificial, cooperative, and consecrated efforts of both men and women for 100 years. Let each of us give them the honor due their efforts and faithfulness and then lift our lips in jubilant praise to the one that made the Hopewell Church of God a reality, and sing "To God Be the Glory".
Hopewell Church of God Bell (1893)
The bronze, 1,000lb bell at Hopewell Church of God was cast in 1893 by the Vanduzen & Tift Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, 1891-1894.
The bell was originally installed in the newly built church's bell tower in 1893 and rung each week to announce the beginning of church services by young church members pulling on a rope and being lifted from the floor as it swung.
As the building aged it was obvious the old wooden steeple was beginning to deteriorate and the bell would be too heavy to be supported safely. During the late 1970's the old wooden steeple was disassembled and the bell was taken down and installed between the church and the parsonage on a concrete platform with a brick and sandstone cross by church member Richard Boos and dedicated to Ray Haugh another church member who had passed away. The bell remained there for 28 years, being rung each week by children in the congregation pulling a rope.
In the fall of 2007, Hopewell Church of God had nearly completed their recent renovation and it was decided that the bell should be moved to a more prominent place and displayed in a more historically accurate way. Once again calling upon Richard Boos (now 83) and Chris Daniels of Tom Daniels Construction, a design was created that replicated the original bell tower constructed in 1888.
Richard, with the help of his wife Irene and daughter Lydia laid out and began constructing the foundation for a brick and sandstone structure that would incorporate the original sandstone cross, as well as provide a beautiful flowerbed and mounting for two new church signs. The upper portion was designed and built by Chris Daniels of Daniels Construction. Duane King, along with John & Lee Dewald and John King undertook the task of moving the bell and running the necessary electric lines and drainage for the new bell tower. A pneumatic ringer was fabricated and installed by Duane King and Lee Dewald.
The completed tower now stands as a landmark in Seneca County, at the corner of County Road 48 and Township Road 121. This new tower was dedicated on September 7th, 2008 for Hopewell Church of God's 150th anniversary celebration.
It is our hope and prayer that this bell will continue to sound a call to worship for the next 150 years for the residents of Seneca County.