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Salem United Methodist Church began during the period of reconstruction that followed the Civil War. The location lies near the shores of Lake Murray just 12 miles from Columbia.
Those familiar with early Methodism know that the scattered rural churches were grouped together into "circuits" consisting of as many as twelve or fifteen churches. The ministers serving these churches were known as "circuit riders". The Old Lexington Circuit later divided into two circuits with the name "Lexington Fork" given to the other. This consisted of a group of churches located in both Lexington and Richland counties. Due to the distance to existing churches on the circuit and hardships of travel several families living in or near the Ballentine community gave more thought to starting a new church nearer their homes. A "Brush-Arbor" revival in late summer of 1872 held near the old Resin Hill Schoolhouse led to the formation of Salem. This schoolhouse was located at a point where several large tracts of land, owned by residents of the area intersected. Following this revival serious consideration was given to the matter of a new church. After the winter months had passed the decision was made to organize.
On March 30, 1873, seven men, twelve women and an undetermined number of children became the nucleus of Salem Methodist Episcopal Church, South. This group of Christians met in the small Resin Hill School and were attached to the Lexington Circuit. Rev. J. Claudius Miller was the preacher on the circuit at that time, having been appointed in December 1872 after serving 2 years on the Graniteville Mission. By the end of the year the number of members had increased to fifty-six. It became apparent that the little schoolhouse was no longer large enough for the congregation.
Mr. Jesse Derrick, one of the charter members donated an acre of land at the present location which lies between Ballentine and Lexington on State Highway No. 6. An article of conveyance was drawn up on the 9th day of August 1873, signed by Jesse Derrick, to three trustees, Christian Mickler, J. Timothy Weed and Joseph H. Bickley, the land to be used "for the purpose of divine worship forever". The deed was prepared and recorded on February 23, 1874 in Lexington County, SC.
The construction of the new building was supervised by William Stack, a carpenter by trade. This building was located near the present East cemetery fence on the church grounds. Rev. George Washington Gatlin became the pastor of the circuit in 1874. The building was completed and the Congregation met in it until another larger building took its place in 1896.
The property was listed in 1874 as one acre, one church and valued at $450.00. In 1876 the value had increased to $525.00.
There was no heat in the church. Sunday School and prayer meetings were discontinued during the winter months. The building was heated by a wood stove purchased from Sears Roebuck & Co., Chicago, Illinois. Kerosene bracket lamps furnished light for the evening meetings.. The first organ was purchased from Sears Roebuck. Mrs. Janie Meetze Chapman and Mrs Annie Weed played for services when they were very young..
Mrs Eula Derrick Koon remembers her mother, Dolly Derrick, cleaning the first church every Saturday afternoon and her father John Lee Derrick, getting the wood for the stove and starting the fire on Sunday morning.
The Lexington Fork Circuit consisted of five to six churches. The preacher conducted services only once or twice a month in each of the churches. Because of the distances between the churches the preacher often traveled the day before and spent the night with a family of the congregation.
The furnishings of the first church were very simple. They consisted of a pulpit, pews and communion table. This table, an offering plate, pitcher and two goblets were given by Mrs. Louisa Smith.
In 1931 the original building was moved to the present location. More land was purchased, a gift of Mrs. Eula O'Sheal, thereby enlarging the cemetery.
After the church was moved, Lester Derrick was responsible for heading the construction of the four new Sunday School rooms on the back of the original building. Frank Seigler designed and supervised the construction of a new vestibule to the sanctuary which had a single arched entrance doing away with the old double entrance. This gave the church two new small class rooms (located on each side of the vestibule). The materials were donated and labor was provided by the congregation. Matthew Koon sawed and dressed the lumber.
Again the church felt the need to expand and in 1953 the addition of eight additional classrooms were added along with enlarging the sanctuary and adding a Fellowship Hall. Royal Derrick was appointed chairman of the building committee and Carlisle Balentine supervised the construction These additions were necessary due to the increased membership.
The congregation celebrated the 100th Anniversary along with Homecoming Day the week of September 9 - 16, 1973
MINISTERS SERVING SALEM CHURCH
Part of this Church Record was abstracted from "AN HISTORICAL SKETCH" - "Salem United Methodist Church". Compiled by Mrs Marie Dummett