Historical Sketch of Salem Baptist Church
Salem Baptist Church was organized as a mission from Shockley's Ferry Church in 1798. Salem remained a prosperous mission until November 1802, when it was constituted a church with 84 members. At that time the members met in a small log building with boards fastened on with pegs for a roof. Salem is fortunate to have in its possession minutes dating back to April 17, 1830, but little is known of the early history of the church as the minutes for the first 30 years have been lost. However, from Saluda Baptist records we find statistics as early as 1813. From these records we can conclude that Rev. James Hembree was pastor from 1813-1849. He was also probably pastor before 1813.
Not only is Salem one of the oldest churches in Anderson, it also is the birth place of the Saluda Baptist Association. On November 5, 1803, messengers from sister churches met at Salem Baptist Church and organized the still existing Saluda Association.
In 1838 the church appointed a committee to meet with delegates from other churches at Flat Rock Baptist Church in reference to joining the Fork Shoals Association. They considered the Saluda Association to be error in her ways - namely mission work. In October, the Non-Fellowship Act was passed at Salem, in which they declared non-fellowship with the missionary money system and all its kindred institutions as the invention of man; contrary to the Scriptures, and the truth; and they believed them to be anti-Christian. When the resolution was passed, several members asked for their letter stating they were in sympathy with the Saluda Association. The church rescinded the Non-Fellowship Act in 1850 and in 1853 petitioned the Saluda for re-admission, which was granted.
Church services varied in the early days because the pastor usually preached more than one church at a time - varying from one Sunday a month to twice a month. In early years, conferences were held on Saturdays. At each conference the pastor would ask if the church was at peace. If there were some who had been out of fellowship with the church or one another, that situation was brought to the attention of the church. The church adopted and abided by the Rules of Decorum. If a member was found to be in direct opposition to these rules, the church would act on it. A committee of church members was appointed to talk with the member and see if they could be restored to the church fellowship. If they could not be restored, at the next conference the committee would explain why and the member in question would be excluded from membership. Some reasons members were excluded were gossip, adultery, lying, cheating, using foul language, intoxication, not paying their church debt, etc. If the member agreed to follow the Rules of Decorum, then he was put back in good fellowship.
If a member asked for a letter of dismissal and he owed assessment to the church, the church would not grant his letter. In the early days of the church, expenses were divided by the number of members and the member owed that much for the year. This was called an assessment.
Also in the early years of our church, women took no part in the business meetings. But as the years passed, women began to take an active role. In 1891 a committee led by Sister M.W. Lee was elected to decorate the inside of the church, In 1905 a comittee, consisting of several ladies, was organized to solicit subscriptions for a new organ. By the 1930's and 1940's women were very active in business meetings.
Until 1873 the church was located 5 1/2 miles northwest of Anderson. In 1873 six acres of land at our present site were donated to the church by Mrs.W.E.Watson and Major Thomas B. Lee. A brick construction was completed a year later at a cost of $2100.00. The building was torn down in May 1966.
In 1960 Rev. Charles Dockins was employed as Salem's first full time pastor. Under his leadership, the church constructed the parsonage which was dedicated June 17,1962. On September 1, 1963 the Rev.W.C. Hudson came from Hunters Creek Baptist Church of Carnesville, GA to serve our church. During his years, Salem enjoyed the biggest growth in its history. In eight months in 1965, sixty-three new members were added to the roll and from October 1966 - October 1967 there were 104 new members added. He led the church through four building programs. On May 24,1964, the small sanctuary was dedicated.
In November 1964 a fellowship hall was completed and named in memory of the late C.L. Waldrep. Present day member, Mrs. Mae Gentry, is the daughter of Mr. Waltrep.
On September 3, 1995 Dr. Michael Smith preached his first message as pastor. In the last few years a fire has been re-lit at Salem. Membership is growing and the Word is being preached, the Awana Club for children began. Unlike the early days of our church, mission work is now a high priority as we support seven missionary families.
As we go into the 21st century may we go mindful of our past,looking back and remembering but pressing on for the greater glory of Jesus Christ.
"Salem is Alive and well"