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Moravian Church of West Salem

Moravian church

The Moravian Church of West Salem was organized by the Rev. Martin Houser on May 25th 1844, in Peter Hinkle's barn, which stood nearly a mile northeast of town. Most of the charter members had come from Salem, North Carolina, and the new settlement was called New Salem. Later the name was changed to West Salem in deference to another and older New Salem in Illinois.

At first the West Salem Church was served by Brother Houser as a filial of the Hope (Indiana) Church until 1847, when he became the settled Pastor at West Salem. The first church edifice had already been dedicated May 31, 1846. In the following year the first parsonage was erected. At the close of 1849 the communicant members numbered 103.

Beginning with 1849 there was a large influx of people from Germany. On one day, July 20, 1849, 46 immigrants arrived at West Salem. For the next nine years the congregation was organized in two "Divisions," an English and a German part sharing with each other the church property, each having its own official board and at times its own pastor. However, as time passed and the membership grew, this arrangement became more and more unsatisfactory to both parts. In February, 1858, arrangements agreeable to both were finally perfected, which provided for a complete separation. The German part retained the old property, or that part of the property now lying north of Church Street, while the English part erected a new church on the south side of the public square, which was dedicated August 13, 1859. After the separation the Brethern Martin Houser and Herman Tietze continued as pastors of the English and German Churches respectively. As independent and in due time self-supporting Moravian Churches, for the next 57 years they both prospered, browing in numbers and influence. In 1877 the German Church erected a new parsonage and dedicated a new church edifice on April 10, 1892. The church edifice is still in use, but a new and modern brick parsonage was erected in 1951.


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