History of Salem United Church Of Christ



To trace the heritage of Salem United Church of Christ, we need to go back more than a century, with the immigration of Germans from Russia in the latter half of the nineteenth century. They were a people from Germany who migrated to Russia as early as 1763 when the Empress Catherine offered special privileges to foreigners.  Many Germans went to Russia as opportunities there seemed brighter than they presently had in Germany.  In 1781, Alexander I of Russia again extended an invitation to get the Odessa region settled, offering the same privileges as Catherine.  These Germans were ambitious, hard working people.  They maintained close-knit groups and lived in exclusive German Villages, retaining their own language, customs and religion.  In early 1870’s the Czar cut off all special privileges for these colonists and desired to make them full-fledged Russians, with the young men being drafted into the Russian army.  These people then turned to a new land of promise which was across the ocean.  Many migrated to South America and Canada but the vast majority came to the United States.  By 1877 settlers arrived in Dakota Territory and large numbers took up homesteads in this area.  Many of them assimilated into denominations of the community but others left their respective denominational background and found a church home among the preaching missionaries of the Congregational Churches.  With the continued influx of these people and with the organizing of churches across the land, there appeared a growing need for general session whereby members could come together for fellowship and spiritual growth.  The first organizing meeting of the General Conference of German Congregational Churches was held at Crete, Nebraska in 1883. With the merger of Evangelical and Reformed Churches and the Congregational Christian Churches in 1957, at Cleveland, Ohio forming the United Church of Christ, the General Conference Churches became involved in this merger.  Thus after 80 years, the General Conference of German Congregational Churches, meeting in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska in 1963, voted to disband the organization.  Its enterprise was carried over into the new United Church of Christ.




Hoffnungsburg Church


With the leadership of the Rev. E Jose, the first church organized in the Parkston Parish was Hoffungsburg. This group met in the home of Gottlieb Winter on June 29, 1884.


Church services were held in the Gottlieb Winter home until 1890 when the first sanctuary was built at a material cost of $325. 20 and was dedicated the same year.  In 1927, a remodeling project as a cost of $1,000.00 sustained the building needs of the congregation until it disbanded.


The Hoffnungsburg Church entertained the 1897 session of the German Conference.

The passing of years brought many changes, and with these changes the feeling arose that something should be done to improve the pastoral service to the churches in the parish. It was in view of this the congregation voted to disband on November18, 1946.   The vast majority of the members joined the Pilgrim Church of Tripp and Salem Church of Parkston. The church building was sold by auction moved to Tripp and remodeled into a home.



Friedensfeld Congregational Church


The Friedensfeld Congregational Church was organized on August 6, 1884. This took place in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Mogck, Sr. with Rev. E. Jose acting as moderator. There were eleven charter members.


Services were held in the Henry Mogck, Sr. home for four years.  The first church was built in 1889 and dedicated in May of that year.  In 1901 this building was destroyed by storm.   As times were very difficult, the congregation was discouraged to the point of discontinuing, but with the encouragement of Rev. C. F. Finger, the church was rebuilt and dedicated the same year. The Friedensfeld congregation hosted three sessions of the German Conference. On June 4, 1946 the members met in special session to discuss the feelings about disbanding and then met again and voted to disband on November 17, 1946. A great number of the membership joined the Salem Church of Parkston and the Pilgrim Church of Tripp.  The church building was sold for $800.00.




Zion Congregational Church


 The Zion Congregational Church was organized in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gottlieb Tiede on


August 31,1884. The Rev Emanuel Jose acted as moderator.


At the same time another group was organized just three miles north in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Christian Fischer.   This group soon decided to become a part of the Zion Church and joined that membership early in 1885.

The first church was built in 1885 and dedicated in October of that year.   In 1889 a tower was added to the building, raising the value of the property to $2,000.00.  In 1927 the church was redecorated and  improved at a cost of $623.00.  On June 7, 1928, lightning struck the steeple and it burned.  After serious deliberation about rebuilding it was decided to build a new church.  It was dedicated on December 28, 1928.  The cost of it was $8,740.00.


Thus the congregation continued in its work until December 2, 1947, when the last service was held.  The members had voted to disband on November 20, 1947.   The church building was sold and moved to a location northwest of Corsica.  Recently it was moved from that place but it continues to be a house of worship.


Each of the three country churches sold their properties and gave the money to the Pilgrim Church of Tripp and to the Salem Church of Parkston for use in their building funds.


When these churches were organized, the common mean of transportation was with horse and buggy or sled.   In time each church built long horse barns to give shelter for the horses.  Each family owned a stall. Thus the horses were protected from the weather and had their ration of oats while the family was in church.   Often families brought their noon lunch so they could stay for the afternoon prayer service.   Later when members had the pleasure of owning their first automobile, these sheds were used to put their cars in while they attended the services.  Each family took their turn for janitor work.  This meant that someone made an early trip to church before services on cold days to start the stove to warm the building.


The Hoffnungsburg, Friedensfeld, and Zion Churches celebrated their 50th Anniversary in connection with the  annual Mission-fest on Sunday, September 3, 1934.






United Church Of Christ


This church was organized at the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Solmon Brost on September 7, 1943.  Eighteen families were represented at the organizational meeting and all voted to establish a church,  chose the name “The Pilgrim Congregational Church.”


The first church home was an old Methodist Church building which was renovated and furnished and was dedicated December 12, 1943.


After the closing of many country churches and ever growing congregation which made it necessary to make plans for a new building.  The work began in April of 1950, actual work was mostly volunteer.  It took 122 days to dismantle the old and have the new erected.  Dedication service was July 30 and 31 of 1950.   Rev. Ruben Koehler served the church at the time which was also the minister of the Parkston Church.


Various groups and organizations were organized along with Sunday School and Bible School, Bible School combined with Bethany Church of Delmont.   The Women’s Fellowship contributed a great deal to the life of the church both materially and spiritually.


In 1963, Pilgrim Congregational voted to join newly formed United Church of Christ.  The name was changed to Pilgrim United Church of Christ.   Until 1970, the church was a member of the Parkston Parish, sharing one Pastor.  Later in 1970 Salem Church of Parkston proposed The Tripp Church close and be a one church parish.   Since the Tripp members did not accept agreement it was terminated on April 30.  In May of the same year they became a yoke parish with the Bethany United Church of Delmont.


The Church hosted various workshops, Sunday School Convention and many others.   Membership dropped through marriage, deaths and transfers, forced the church to close and become part of other churches.



Salem Congregational Church


The Salem Congregational Church was organized in 1892 in the home of Christian Winter, Sr.  The Rev. G Scheuerle, pastor of the Parish, was moderator of the meeting.

Services were held in private homes in 1902.   In 1929 the basement under half of the church was completed and a furnace was installed.


During the early years and on through 1946, the four churches of the Parkston Parish had one minister who served them.   This means that the minister was able to conduct services in each church about once a month.   On the other three Sundays, the Deacons and lay people conducted the services for morning worship, afternoon prayer services and Sunday School as well.


The Pilgrim Congregational Church in Tripp was organized in September, 1943, with Rev. A. Schiller of the Parkston Parish in charge.  Pilgrim United Church of Christ was a member of the Parkston Parish until March 1970 when Salem United Church members voted to become a one–church parish.


It was during the pastorate of the Rev. Ruben Koehler that the three country churches disbanded.  This created an increase in membership of Salem Church and it became obvious that a building project would have to be undertaken.  A building fund was established as early as 1946, with the decision that money in this fund could be used only for a new church building.  By February, 1948, members decided to build by majority vote.  A planning committee was elected and instructed to proceed in locating a site.  The winter months of 1949-1950 were spent in hauling materials to the present site of Salem United Church of Christ.  Members enthusiastically, willingly supplied trucks, tractors and manual labor.  The ground-breaking ceremony was held on April 2, 1950 and the cornerstone was laid on June 18, 1950.  The work on the brick building progressed and it was dedicated on June 3, 1951.  The total cost of the building and the furniture was $86,152.00.  Salem Church was host to the General Conference in June 1955.


At annual business meeting in 1963, the congregation proceeded to officially change the name from Salem Congregational Church to Salem United Church of Christ.


In December of 1970 the Rev. Theodore Bader accepted our call and served our church for 25 years.  During this period many outstanding improvements were made which included the addition of a chapel and office for the minister and secretary, and a large fellowship hall with library and complete kitchen.  The basement was also remodeled into solid-wall Sunday School rooms, at the cost of $280,114.00, all of which was raised by the congregation and the bills paid.


The Rev. Elmo Herman, accepted our call in August of 1996. Since then we have continued to make improvements and additions our church.  A new Bose Sound System was installed which enables the people to hear clearly in all parts of the church.   Sunday services are now televised and broadcast locally on a cable TV station.  The worship service is also televised in the Fellowship Hall.  The original windows of church were replaced by aluminum frame windows and double pane insulated glass.  Full sized stained glass windows were installed. They portray the promises of God and fulfillment of His plan through the life of Christ.  Stained glass panels were also placed in the foyer and circular window gracing the church above the front entry.  These projects were made possible through donations from church members, organizations within the church and memorial gifts.  Recently the church roof has been re-shingled and gutters and downs-spouts replaced.  Repairs to the Bell Tower and rain gutters were also completed. Much credit for these additions and improvements must be given to the faithful church members and all the committees.






May we continue to work and serve together with Love, Faith and Praise to our Lord for guiding us on our Spiritual journey.


Sunday Worship: 10:00 a.m.

Parkston Congregational Church

209 W Teek Street

Parkston, SD 57366



Adult Bible Study - Sundays 9am

Confirmation - Wednesdays 7:15 - 8:15pm

Pre - 12th  - Wednesdays 6:00 - 7:15pm