Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church began life in New Ephrata, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1852. Members of the Lutheran and German Reformed Friedens Church resolved to erect a Union Church on Apple Street to serve both congregations and were known as Friedens Union Church. The facility was used by both congregations, but on alternating Sundays.
As time passed and both churches grew, the single facility became too small. A Board of Appraisers evaluated the property and an offer of $600.00 was made by the Reformed congregation and accepted by the Lutheran congregation to purchase the existing property. Ground was purchased on Main Street for a new Lutheran Church and excavation began in late November 1901. The new facility was dedicated September 7, 1902.
For many years, a minister served more than one parish. Over the years the same minister served Emmanuel, Jerusalem, White Oak (Penryn), Manheim, Muddy Creek and Swamp as well as Salem, a group of seven churches. A later grouping of parishes was Salem, Swamp, St. John’s and Mellingers. These groupings changed as membership and other needs changed. In 1963 Salem became a one church parish and remains so today.In 1913, it was decided to preach in German every six weeks instead of every 4 weeks. 1913 also saw the church wired for electricity. The fixtures were updated in 1934 and 1938 saw the regular use of bulletins. The educational annex was added in 1958. This included adding indoor plumbing. Educational facilities were again enlarged in 1974 with the addition of a classroom and study for the pastor.
Salem added a second Sunday worship service for the summer of 1986 and again for the summer of 1987. The decision was made to continue with two services on a regular basis in September 1987.
In 1993 a 2-story addition that included classrooms, Church Office, Pastor’s Study, Nursery, Altar Care Room, Kitchen and Fellowship Hall was added.The congregation began celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly at both Sunday Services in December 2000. We also dedicated an improved and expanded sound system in the fall of 2000. 2002 saw the Celebration of 150 years of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church with commemorative services and many other special events.
In 2006 Pastor Jeffrey H. Pretz received a new call to serve Trinity Lutheran Church, New Holland. Pastor Pretz served Salem faithfully for over 30 years. He was a faithful Lutheran churchman who cared for Salem Church deeply. Following Pastor Pretz’s departure the Rev’d Robert Bistline, served capably as interim for nearly four years. In 2009 Pastor Jeffrey Goodman accepted the call to become Salem’s 12th pastor. Since 2009 Pastor Goodman has endeavored to preach the fullness of God’s Word in both Law and Gospel.
Salem Church has had a faithful and unique history as a Lutheran parish church. We look forward to many years ahead of living our faith and being the people of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.