Salem Church perpetuates the first United Methodist Church organized in Vermillion County by John Helt in 1821 and was known as Helt’s Prarie Class.
The First Minister was Rev. Chamberlain followed by Rev. William James, a Virginian who came to the county in 1822 and preached in a log barn of John Helt and later in a small log cabin school.
The first church building in Vermillion County was built on its current site in 1846 on land deeded by James and Elizabeth Harper Sr. (great-grandparents of Maurice Harper). This was to be Salem Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1878, the congregation erected the current brick building on the old foundation at a cost of $2,838. The bricks for the church were made in Mecca and ferried over the river on David Miller’s ferry boat and were then hauled to the church by horse and wagon.
Salem Church was built in Early Gothic and Romanesque Revival Architecture. The church has eight Gothic arch windows, lancet window, date stone, and a Gothic spire steeple. The altar rail and pulpit were hand made from native woods by local wood workers. Two oak chairs with cane bottoms were placed behind the pulpit and are part of the original furniture of the church.
The growth of the church continued with a brick addition (the back room) which was added in 1902.
In 1967, the Methodist Church merged with the United Brethren and the name was officially changed to the Salem United Methodist Church. the name Salem, taken from the Bible, Genesis 14:18 and Psalm 76:2, stands for PEACE. Psalm 76:2 is the Jewish interpretation that Salem is JeruSalem.
In February 1977, Salem United Methodist Church became registered on the National Register of Historic Places through the efforts of Patricia Heskett Crum.
An education room/kitchen was added in 1978. Tiny Farrington donated the outdoor shelter in 1986. The outdoor sign was built in 1986 in memory of Bessie and Elmer Swinford.
Having served Salem in 1956, Rev. Wendell Adams returned to Salem in 1986 and served until his retirement in 1998. In February of 1999, Rev. Bill Felts began his ministry at Salem and continues to serve today.
Salem was awarded “Small Church of the Year” in the fall of 1999.
The church became incorporated in 2001 and is now known as Salem United Methodist Church of Vermillion County.
In 2003, plans were finalized for an addition to the church of a fellowship room to support the growing church family. The land needed for the addition was donated by the Mack Family.
A ground breaking ceremony was held on March 14, 2004 for the new addition. Construction was completed four months later and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Sunday, August 15, 2004.
In in the summer of 2008, a fenced playground was installed.
In 2013, an addition was added to the existing kitchen.