- OUR CHURCH HISTORY -
Sharing salvation since 1747
The history of our congregation dates back to the Protestant Reformation that began in Europe in the 16th century. As this "protest" of the Catholic Church swept through Europe, many Christians looked to The New World across the Atlantic as a place to establish a home that worshiped an Omnipotent God without the corruption of leaders or government in the Catholic Church. German and Swiss were among the first peoples to seek a life in The New World in what was called The Middle Colonies. They settled in areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Jersey. There were those who settled here in the Conococheague Valley worshiping in homes and barns until congregations erected their own houses of worship- churches.
In 1747 fifty acres of land were gifted to a newly formed congregation in the Conococheague Valley. A six-sided log church, complete with catwalks and rifle slits was built and became a refuge when Native Americans threatened the settlers. In early years, this congregation named "Salem Reformed Church" in which Salem is translated from Shalom, meaning "peace" was known as "Deyshere's", "German Evangelic Reformed", "Troxel's", and "New Salem."
In 1746 The Rev. Michael Schlatter of the Reformed Church of Holland was sent as a missionary to The Middle Colonies. He organized the first Coetus of Reformed Church in America on September 29, 1747, with Salem Church part of it. An addition was built onto the log church in 1806- the same year the church became incorporated in Maryland. After a fire, the bulk of the 50 acres owned by the church was sold to build a sanctuary in 1822 that still serves as the sanctuary today. During the Civil War Salem Church and the woodlands around the church served as a makeshift hospital during battles as close as the intersection of what is now Broadfording Road and Cearfoss Pike.
Salem joined several charges of churches including Zion Reformed Church in Hagerstown from 1770 to 1884 and Christ Reformed Church from 1884 to 1959. The impactful heritage of Salem is found throughout Hagerstown and Washington County; Salem Church Road, Point Salem Road, Salem Road, Salem Avenue, and Salem Avenue Elementary School. Captain Jonathan Hager, founder of Hagerstown was an early member of Salem, even selling the church a stove to heat the church during the winter.
During the 20th Century, God continued to bless Salem with growth and community impact. A Sunday School building and fellowship hall was built, and later a second Sunday School building was built with classrooms for children. In 2003, a Family Life Center was built and dedicated debt-free the next year through hard-work and gifts.
Today, Salem Reformed Church is an independent, non-denominational congregation of people who claim Jesus as the only way to salvation. Since 1747 we have worshiped God together, and ministered to our community and each other. We will continue to do so as long as God allows us!
The sanctuary was built/dedicated in 1822, it has the original pews, altar, altar chairs, as well as chandelier.
The chandelier has been hanging in the sanctuary since it was built in 1822. Originally lit by oil, it's now electrified.