Our History

A historical marker stands in front of Salem Baptist Church along Highway 63

The original record book of Salem Baptist Church, dated September 11, 1854 reads as follows:

“We as a body of members have thought fit to form ourselves into a church after prayer and careful investigation. We agree to be constituted on the articles of faith of the Mississippi River Baptist Association and have selected the beloved brethren J. L. Simpson and G. H. Washington as a presbytery. The rules and order of the Association was read and adopted.”

-First Page of the Old Church Book

Salem Baptist Church was admitted later that same year into the Mississippi River Baptist Association. Several of the annual Association meetings were held at Salem in the 1800s. Association minutes give some insight into Salem’s vitality during this time period.1 Minutes from 1856 state that “Salem was reported prosperous under the labors of J. L. Simpson.” However, just one year later the minutes record that “Salem reports herself in a cold state, but is thankful for some favors received.” Similar remarks were made in 1865: “Although we are in a cold state at present, we hope for better times, and desire an interest in the prayers of the Association. 1871 produced a more upbeat report, “Salem Church is in a good condition. Has a school in successful operation. Enjoying the faithful labors of J. L. Simpson.” These minutes reveal that from its inception, Salem Baptist Church has held associationism in high regard with regional churches “planted by the providence of God.”2 These churches prayed for one another and provided assistance in times of need.

The first church building was about 20 ft. by 25 ft. It was constructed of rough lumber with rough church benches. There were no musical instruments and the building was lighted by lamps. This building was built near the present church building location. In 1886, a new church building was built on the present cemetery hill on the north end of the cemetery. This was a frame, one-room church about 30 ft. by 40 ft. The church met in this building for 22 years until a tornado blew it down. At that time, school was being held in the church building. The building was lifted off of the teacher and pupils. No one was seriously hurt.

Church cemetery with a chapel located on Salem Cemetery Road

After the storm, a school house was built about where the parsonage now stands. Church services were held in the school. Another building about 32 ft. by 50 ft. was built at the south end of the cemetery in the summer of 1909, one year after the storm. Later that fall, another storm wrecked that building. It was just after the first revival meeting had been held there. On June 30, 1910, the church voted to relocate near the school house. A one-room building about 26 ft. by 40 ft. was constructed. The benches made then are the same ones now used at the cemetery chapel. In March 1943, the first services were held in a new two-story building, which was built with donated labor. The upstairs was originally the auditorium and the downstairs was the Sunday School rooms. In January 1949, the church voted to turn the two-story building around and build a new auditorium which was used until 1971.

In 1971, the Lord led the church to construct a new parsonage and a new educational building with a fellowship hall. A proposed auditorium was planned, but in God’s providence construction never came to fruition. The current sanctuary is located inside of the education building, until such time as the Lord sees fit to for us to complete the plans from earlier years.

  1. W. E. Paxton. A History of the Baptists in Louisiana from the Earliest Times to the Present (St. Louis, MO: C. R. Barns Publishing Co., 1888), 65-117. ↩︎
  2. 1689 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith: “Of The Church,” Chapter 26.14. ↩︎