The roots of Salem UMC reach back almost to the establishment of Saline county. The forefathers of this community of believers knew the importance of both faith in the Lord and moving forward for present and future generations. The first steps were taken to establish a permanent location for the community of faith developed by the circuit rider preachers serving Saline county in the 1830's. At that time, services were held in the home of William Scott. In 1837, the Salem campground was established as Scott campground. Salem church, separate from the campground, was established in 1859. In 1867, the campground was dedicated as a permanent church site. The campground was an important religious part of the community and a time of fellowship after harvest. The campground arbor has experienced many physical changes as have the spiritual lives of those attending camp meetings.
The first church building was a log cabin that was blown away by a tornado in the 1800's. That church building was rebuilt. This one was destroyed by a fire in 1909/1910. Again our forefathers took steps to rebuild a wooden structure between 1910 to 1919. The arbor stood beside this church and was moved to its current location in the 1950's to make room for the current brick sanctuary, completed in 1966. Since then we have added the children's wing, expanded the fellowship hall, added sunday school rooms, expanded the sanctuary, and are currently planning a family life center. All of these expansions were undertaken to serve the needs of a growing community. It was never about us, it has always been about you. Salem is extremely fortunate to have detailed records of the church and the community through the efforts of our Historian, Shirley Gregory.