Cultivating a Passion for Christ

Brief History

On July 2, 1802 a group from Upper King and Queen and Upper Zion (Tuckahoe) Churches met and wrote a one page covenant forming Salem Baptist Church. This body of believers met in an arbor until a wooden frame building was constructed about two miles southwest of Alps.In 1818 another group started Mount Calvary Church at Sparta. These believers met in a large log house. In 1852 it was replaced with a brick structure, which is Salem’s present sanctuary.

In 1846 some members of Salem at Alps came to Mount Calvary because of the temperance issue. In 1854 Andrew S. Broaddus, nephew of Andrew Broaddus I, led a wagon train of 200 people from the Sparta area to Texas. Two years later the remaining members of Mount Calvary dissolved their constitution and joined with the Salem group near Alps. They met at the Salem Meeting House on the second Saturday and Sunday, and the Mount Calvary Meeting House on the fourth Sunday.

1865 marked the end of the Civil War and members of Salem helped their black members establish Jerusalem Baptist Church in 1866. Jerusalem is off the Newtown Road about two miles south of Sparta.

In 1869 members began to use the better meeting house in Sparta exclusively and three years later the name was changed from Mount Calvary to Salem. In 1912 Sunday School rooms were added.

 The parsonage was built in 1927 on three acres of land donated by Samuel E. Pitts. 1952 marked completion of the educational building with six classrooms, fellowship hall and kitchen. The present sanctuary was extended and renovated providing a choir loft, larger pulpit and additional rooms in 1972. In 1984 the original Sunday School rooms were replaced by an addition that included offices and a choir room. 1999 marked the dedication of a new two story building with 12 classrooms, a large choir room, kitchen and fellowship hall that will seat about 250 people.
In December 2004 renovation was begun on the sanctuary and was completed the summer of 2005.  There are new heating-cooling, sound, and lighting systems.  The pulpit area was expanded.  None of the outside was altered and much care was taken to preserve the 19th century character of the building.Today Salem has about 350 members and employs two full time staff persons. Average Sunday School attendance is about 250.  On Wednesday nights, AWANA  and youth programs involve about 125  children and young people. Dinner is available and Bible study classes are held for adults.