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Our History

Salem: 130 Years of History

Father J.S. Sims was founder and organizer of the Church in 1888. However, as he related in later years information pertaining to the organization of the Church, he stated that he held Sunday School in a home several years before the Mission was organized.

Father Sims headed a mission sent out from the New Hope Baptist Church to set up a Mission Station located on the branch in South Dallas or the Prairie which was known by the people in the neighborhood as the Mission Station.  Their services were first in the home of Mrs. Mary Janie Moore, mother of Mrs. Price A. Wren, until a location could be secured.

At this point, the membership of the Mission began to grow and a plot of ground was leased from Mrs. Janie Moore and a building was erected to Rev. Wilson who was assisted by the brethren of the Mission. Donations for this project were made through New Hope Baptist Church and an additional contribution from the Northwestern Baptist Association by Rev. A. R. Griggs. Both of these ministries were friends of the Mission and donated their services without cost. After completion of the building, Rev. Stubbs was in charge of the Mission and his board was paid from the proceeds from the Mission.

The membership was low and unattractive to most ministers, until a revival was conducted by Rev. I. Toliver which was a great success.  It is to be remembered that because of the success of the Revival, it was agreed by all members of the mission that the mission would be the religious foundation for the organizing of a “full church”.

It was in the month of August, 1891, after this first revival of the mission that the Rev. Toliver along with Rev. Griggs organized the church and named it Salem Baptist Church.

After two years of service the Church was then disclosed as an Independent Church and called its first pastor, Rev. C.N. Pryor. During Rev. Pryor’s pastorate, the church purchased the old site on the branch and the following trustees cleared the mortgage for about three years:  Bro. J.S. Sims, Bro. Joe Harris and Bro. J. B. Davis.

At this time, the church was well on its way, both spiritually and numerically, and as time passed on, the following pastors were called: Rev. Frank Williams, Rev. M.C. Calhoun, Rev. G.W. Smith, Rev. A. Taylor, Rev. A. R.Griggs, Rev. A. L. Moore, Rev. R. H. Wilson and Rev. James Peren. During the Pastorate of these ministers, Salem’s efforts were centered on evangelism and the building of the church numerically.  It was not until 1911, under the pastorate of Rev. R. D. Canady that the church was moved and rebuilt at Preston and Paris Streets.

In 1917, the church was rebuilt by Rev. L. B. Skinner and grew both physical and spiritually.  After the death of Rev. Skinner in the years 1921-1922, the church continued to grow and the frame edifice was rebuilt by Rev. M.B. Bilbrew.  It was during this his pastorate that the church gave birth her first, “spiritual offspring”, Zion Hill Baptist which was organized by Rev. Bilbrew at Flora and Boll Streets.

In 1932, under the pastorate of Rev. C.A. Powers, the church was again rebuilt and continued to grow spiritually and physically, for a number of years.  Soon after, Rev. R.D. Nious was elected, yet passed away after serving a few years.

In August 1939, Rev. B.R. Riley was elected pastor and under his leadership, many tangible accomplishments were made; for example, a fully developed religious education program, a tithing church and an increase in members.

There was also to his credit, a nine room parsonage and in 1944, a remodeling of the church took place. Due to city expansion in 1946, a site was purchased at 710 Bourbon Street and the building was moved there in 1947.  The Deacons at that time were: Bro. Selvin Adkinson, E. M. Allen, Ben Beard, Leroy Bowers, Leroy Bright, Jesse Butler, Oscar Bush, Mack Gray, Jr., Frank Grayson, I. H. Harper, Will Hunt, Walter Hopkins, Alonzo Jackson, M.A. Johnson, Windell Kizzee, George W. Lee, Loyd Lewis, Oliver Locke, T.B. Lipscomb, L. Mathis, J. B. McDonald, Anson Washington, I. Williams, John Williams, Milton William, Henry Anthony, Jim Riley, Spencer Wilson, Price Wren, Thomas Wright, Sam Gage and I. Sims.

In May 1954, the Rev. L. B. Nelson was called to Pastor Salem Baptist Church and he was the pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Churches of Phoenix, AZ., where he had served for twelve years.  Upon his arrival, he found the church in need of leadership and discovered that it was in a diminishing community; therefore, he set out to retire all the church’s financial obligations and within five years, it was accomplished.

Pastor Nelson led the church in buying a new site on Eugene and Crozier Street in South Dallas, which is the present site.  This new was purchased at a cash price of $6,500 and in 1962; the Texas Highway Department bought the property on Bourbon Street for $173,460.  Soon after, the church voted to employ an architect to draw up plans for the new church and educational building and this present site has constructed at the cost of $210,000.

From July 1954 ~ March 1968, the church made great progress under the leadership of Rev. Nelson.  During this time, the membership increased to five hundred members and many accomplishments were made; for example, the purchases of a new station wagon and an air conditioner.  The church also became the sponsor of the Mayo Kindergarten School at Eagle Ford.  A store house for the needy was maintained and a scholarship fund was established to help assist young boys and girls with school costs.

Under the leadership of Pastor Nelson, Salem Baptist Church became a strong supporter of the following causes: The National Baptist Convention, Baptist State Convention of Texas, Foreign Missions, Home Missions, Butler College, Bishop College, The Interracial Baptist Institute, The Galilee Griggs Memorial District Association and the N.A.A.C.P.

In April 1968, Rev. Nelson became ill and Rev. Washington was selected to be Pastor.  Rev. Washington was installed as the 18th pastor of this great church.  Under his administration, the church’s indebtedness was liquidated and a parking lot was added to the church property, as well as a Maxie Van bus, pew cushions, a new organ and a special memorial monument.

In the early 1990’s, Rev. Michael Easley became the pastor of Salem Baptist Church and briefly led the congregation spiritually until his departure.

In 1993, Rev. Dr. A.E. Campbell, Jr. became the 20th pastor of the church.  Rev. Campbell laid to rest many, married several couples, baptized into the hundreds, accepted many into church membership by Christian experience, developed several new church auxiliaries/ministries, as well as counseled many and prayed for all.  In 2008, Rev. Campbell became ill and in 2010 he was then named Pastor Emeritus and Rev. Todd M. Atkins was selected to be pastor.

In May 2010, Rev. Todd  M. Atkins was installed as the pastor of the Salem Institutional Baptist Church and has inspired many and encouraged several to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.  His hope is to make Salem bigger and better in its kingdom building process.

We hope the above stated history will inspire and encourage you to serve the Lord here with us at the Salem Institutional Baptist Church.