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History of Salem Church

Salem was organized on August 18, 1850, by the Rev. B.N Hopkins, who was preaching at St. Enoch’s. Elders of the church when it was organized were Henry Barringer and Charles Miller. Deacons were Peter Barger and Jesse Liarly.

Rev. Hopkins resigned May 14, 1852 and the Rev. S. S. Heilig assumed duties as pastor on April 29, 1853. During Rev. Hopkins pastorate, John Barger deeded by calculation thirty acres to the elders and deacons of Salem Lutheran Church for the consideration of $100.00 on the 29th of April, 1854.

Salem was in a parish with St. Enoch’s from 1850 until 1858 when Trinity was added. The first building was a log structure and was located northeast of the present building. On May 28, 1881 a congregational meeting was held to consider taking steps to build a new facility for Salem to worship in. On September 16, 1882, the cornerstone was laid. This was a frame structure measuring thirty-six by fifty feet. A little more than a year after the cornerstone was laid, the church was completed and furnished with a walnut pulpit, altar, lectern, baptismal standsetter, chairs, two good stoves and carpet in the chancel and aisles.

Salem remained with other parishes until October 1, 1923. Rev. W. G. Cobb was minister at that time. During pastor Cobb’s ministry transepts and Sunday school rooms were added. Salem continued to grow and in January 1947 the congregation voted to build a new church.

On May 12, 1949, plans for the new building were complete and on February 19, 1950, a groundbreaking service was held. On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950, the old church was destroyed by fire that started from a spark on the roof from the wood stove. On April 11, 1950, just two days after the fire, construction began by Craven and Essick Construction Company of Lexington, NC.

The first service, Easter sunrise, was held in the basement on March 25,1951. Worship continued here until the nave of the church was completed. On June 11, 1951, the first service was held in the nave. The total cost of this building was $159,210.58.

The fellowship hall and additional classrooms were built in 1959.

On January 31, 1979, the Salem Church building was once again destroyed by fire. A passing motorist spotted the flames coming from the church. A 30 m.p.h. wind whipped the fire into an unstoppable inferno. The building was destroyed in less than one hour. The fire was so hot that it melted the steel beams despite freezing temperatures.

A year later there was nothing on the site. Church members were worshiping at Hurley Elementary School and preparing to rebuild. Bonds totaling $425,000.00 were sold in less than two days. That money and a $506,000.00 insurance settlement covered the cost of the new sanctuary.

After much deliberation and hard work by the building committee, construction by Laxton Construction Company began in March of 1980. The building was completed in November 1980. The dedication service was held on Sunday, December 21, 1980. The first service was held on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1980.

The new educational building was constructed during the late 1980’s and dedicated debt free in 1990. This building provides space for the Sunday School program and the Salem Preschool which opened in September 1993. The bell memorial was constructed in 1992. Bonds for the church were retired in July 1995. The covered walkway, drive- through and expansion and paving of the parking lots and driveways were completed in 1998. A forty by eighty foot picnic shelter was built in 1999 by the men of the church.

In the year 2000, Salem celebrated its 150th anniversary. This year long event officially began with Homecoming, September 12, 1999, and concluded with Homecoming, August 20, 2000. During the year long celebration, members enjoyed various activities and special events. On August 18, 2000, a time capsule was buried and a special service with four baptisms was held. On August 20, 2000, the Salem History Room was opened. In this room, among other items, one can find a copy of the original deed to the church property, a twisted metal cross which survived the 2nd fire, old financial records from 1894, and a recording of our 1947 Homecoming. Some of the other articles are the baptismal font, an inverted concrete cone from the church tower, memorial cabinet, candelabras which were salvaged from the fire of 1979, and 79, and also a horse “tie up” from an old oak tree cut down in 1998.

Salem continues to draw on its rich history as it moves into the future – spreading the Gospel and making disciples.