1927 Organized under the name Antioch Baptist Church, the church began in the home of Sis. Annie Bradley at 304 Hamblin Avenue.
1931 The church moved from Hamblin Avenue to 147 Parrish Street. Rev. Amos resigned to start a mission on South Ravine Street, which later became the St. Paul Baptist Church. Under his Leadership, the church was affiliated with the Boyd’s Convention.
1937 The Church moved from Parrish Street to 323 Hamblin Avenue. The Church did not keep the name Antioch due to special circumstances over which it had no control. Sis. Julia Jackson offered the name Shady Grove.
1940 Reverend Saddler completely remodeled the home of Shady Grove.
1942 Reverend S. C. Burts was called and the church assisted him in religious training at Chicago Baptist Institute. He graduated in 1946. Under his administration, the church purchased the site at 70 River Street (now Beacon Street) from the Free Methodist Congregation.
1949 A grand march was made from 323 Hamblin Avenue to a building purchased at 70 River Street. The name of the church was changed from Shady Grove to First Salem Missionary Baptist Church. First Salem Missionary Baptist Church hosted the Chain Lake District Association. Reverend B. F. Reed of Pontiac prayed the dedication prayer on the steps of the church. Reverend George Seifert, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church delivered the dedication sermon.
1950 In 1950, Reverend Benjamin A. Robinson became pastor and served for one year. Reverend Benjamin Robinson was President of the Wolverine Western District
1951 In 1951, The Reverend L.L. Tubbs was elected pastor, serving until 1961. A Baptismal Pool, New Piano & Organ, Furnace and Pulpit furniture were purchased and paid for under the leadership of Reverend L. L. Tubbs.
1962 May 3, 1962, Reverend Aaron Harris became pastor, but resigned May 18, 1962, to become pastor of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rev. Harris left to pastor Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Upon Rev. Harris recommendation, the church accepted and called his brother, Reverend Joseph H. Harris of Cairo, Illinois. Under Reverend J. Harris, the church membership nearly doubled. The church was remodeled, added a balcony, replaced pews, purchased a new furnace, and five lots on the corner of North Washington and Parkway Drive for the church site. However, the city requested the lots for what is now known as ‘Dr. Claude Evans Park’. The church reconnected with Chain Lake District. Reverend J. Harris resigned to start Morning Star, now known today as New Morning Star Full Gospel Baptist Church in 1976.
1978 Reverend C.C. Clayton led the church to purchase our present site, 370 Capital Avenue (which included a parsonage next door) and we moved from Beacon Street in March of that year. We celebrated our 51st year of service in the new building on April 9, 1978. Reverend Clayton left to pastor a church in Popular Bluff, Mo.
1978 Reverend B. L. Chandler of Grand Rapids was called in October. Under his leadership the parsonage was remodeled, a new furnace was purchased; the Inspirational Choir and the Nurses Guild were reorganized. We carpeted the entrances, classrooms, library, and choir. An organ, new roof, and a new van were purchased. A witnessing club was started, cornerstone laid, and two lots for additional parking were acquired. The church began a radio broadcast, purchased a charter bus and started a newsletter. Rev. Chandler resigned December 31, 1991.
1991 On May 6, 1992, the church elected Reverend Edward Seals of Tennessee. An additional parsonage was purchased for newly called pastor, Reverend Seals. Under Reverend Seals, the church was able to pay off its mortgage and experience continual growth. Reverend Seals ultimately resigned in January of 1998.
Since 1927, several churches have organized out of First Salem. They are: Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, New Morning Star Full Gospel Baptist Church, New Deliverance Baptist Church, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
1998 – Present
Rev. Tatum was called. Under Reverend Tatum’s leadership, the church has achieved many accomplishments:
1999 Purchased a new van for the church. (White van) Total cost: $19,000.00. Contributed funds to the now historic Sojourner Truth Monument standing in Monument Park. Church bylaws are constructed and approved. Deacon William Moton passes away, but leaves his home to the First Salem family. The home was later sold.
2000 Reverend Tatum was elected Dean of Chain Lake District. All ministries were restructured for ‘Purpose-Driven’ success. J.A.M. a youth ministry, was started.
2001 A new handicap ramp and restroom added, totaling a cost of $79,000.00
2002 Left W.O.L.Y. AM radio to begin broadcasting our radio services on W.F.P.M. 99.5 F.M. First Salem became a life member of the NAACP.
2004 Two lots were purchased on Goguac Street, better known as ‘The Hill.’ Total cost: $12,000.00 Operation Joshua–Caleb took place. New carpeting throughout the entire building, new pews, new pulpit and communion table, new sound system and projection screen, tables, chairs, drums, remodeling of the Pastor’s Office and Secretary’s office took place. New windows were secured for 85% of the building, new entrance was created for the sanctuary and a new audio room was created. Stairway work, along with railings were also completed. The old parsonage was torn down next to the church to make way for 16 additional parking spaces. Fencing was done for Goguac property. Partitions were added to lower level. Total cost: $125,000.00
2005 Applied for and received a $25,000.00 grant for a Parenting Program. This was done under a newly formed non-profit group of the church called First Salem Church Ministries Incorporated. A new marquee was purchased. An Educational scholarship was named in honor of Rev. Lonzell English, Associate Minister who passed tragically. Mother Earther Clay passes at the age of 104 years old.
2006 A sprinkler system was put in and landscaping completed. Rev. Tatum received an Honorary Doctorate of Ministry. Central Air was upgraded. A new Motif piano was purchased. First Salem held its first ‘Church in the Park’ service with Macedonia and drew 650 individuals with 20 souls being saved. Several more services were held which drew crowds upwards to 1,000 each over the next two years at the next two park events.
2007 First Salem Church Ministries Inc. received a $10,000.00 grant for a computer center. The parsonage purchased for Rev. Seals and occupied temporarily by Pastor Tatum and family was sold.
2008 First Salem purchased a 25 Passenger Bus. Total cost $54,000.00. Rev. Craig Tatum becomes Dean for Wolverine State Congress. A new furnace is purchased and electrical is upgraded. Total cost, $15,000.00.
2009 First Salem began a 7:45a.m. Service due to a growing membership. First Salem and Macedonia MBC conduct a joint blood drive. Youth Church for our kids was started. First
Salem started participating in the Summer produce program where food is donated by the Food Bank and First Salem volunteers distributed it on our site.
2010 First Salem began airing Worship services on Channel 16, Access Vision. First Salem started its own website. Additional central air is added in the sanctuary. Total cost $10,000.00
2010 First Salem began Lifestyle Stewardship Capital Campaign to build $1.5 Million dollar facility. Received record number of pledges totaling $435,000.00 toward ‘Project 2013.’ The Jewels’ program was initiated. Rev. Tatum becomes President for Chain Lake District Association. First Salem begins participating in the Summer Food Program.
2011 First Salem began streaming its service live on the internet. The first Leadership Academy was organized. Railings were placed through the entire church facility. Additional sound equipment, which included a new projector were purchased. Super bowl fellowship netted 85 in attendance. Singles Ministry was initiated.
2012 In 2012, First Salem in recognition of Pastor and Sister Tatum’s 14th year of service organized a “Just Do It Community Fellowship.” Food was given to over 300 families, school supplies to over 250 youth, gift cards totaling over 300 dollars were given to community members, bikes valued over $1,000.00 (donated) were given to the nearly 700 plus community members in attendance. First Salem purchased additional property adjacent to vacant lot across from the church. First Salem became a participant in the “Adopt-A-Highway Project,” adopting a stretch of the 1-94 Highway (Exit 100) to clean annually.
2013 New copiers were purchased. (Total cost $12,000.00) Project “Do Something” nets 700 people in attendance on site with 375 youth receiving schools supplies and 300 bags of groceries being given out. Six bikes were donated and given out. The First Salem Mobile app is introduced.
2014 The Year of Church Volunteerism. Baptism pool upgraded. New security equipment added during 2013-14. (Total cost $15,000.00) The lower level was waterproofed ($8,000.00) First Salem delivers services at the Ionia State Prison. First Salem adopts Coburn Elementary School. WOW (Women of Wisdom) donate a van load of clothes to Coburn Elementary. The Hosts and Greeters ministry donate scores of personal hygiene items to the Haven of Rest (A Family Shelter) in addition to donating items to Gracious homes, a home for women. First Salem donates 100 coats to Coburn Elementary through its ‘Coats for Coffee and Cocoa Day.’ The Production Ministry donated coloring books and crayons to students of Coburn Elementary School. The Production and Greeters donated dozens of canned goods to the Haven of Rest. Members of First Salem are volunteering at Coburn Elementary.
WOW provided leadership in volunteering at God’s Kitchen, a ministry that feeds the homeless. The Host Ministry received scarves and mittens for the less fortunate. Pastor Tatum is asked to deliver prayer for the opening of the State Of Michigan legislature for the second time. Project Community net about 650 individuals for the back to school rally, with school supplies given to some 300 youth as well and 250 bags of groceries and six bikes were given out along with $500.00 in gift cards. Our Youth raised $700.00 to provide Christmas blessings for 3 families. Imani Willis, a member of First Salem, won the Chain Lake District and Wolverine State Convention oratorical contest and represented the State of Michigan at the National Baptist Convention Congress of Christian Education Oratorical contest. A Kiosk is made available for members to be able to contribute towards the Ministry of First Salem. First Salem offers its facility to ‘Great Start,’ a weekly program designed to help children become school ready.
2015 The year of Restoration. First Salem launched an effort to restore the current facility we worship in. Nearly $200,000.00 was spent to restore and maintain the First Salem building which included: Flooring being cleaned and restored. Protective glass is purchased to replace current glass protecting stain glass windows, new rear door is purchased to replace existing door. Parking was repaired along with fencing. An upgraded phone system was purchased. Carpeting is purchased to replace current carpet in front and rear foyer. A second storage room was created for production storage in the Production room. 50-inch televisions were added to the sanctuary. New Video Cameras were purchased to further our efforts to produce our weekly television broadcast. A new Leslie organ along with a drum set was purchased. Three layers of shingles were removed and a new roof added. Total cost $55,000.00. The building received a complete brick overhaul; where some 4,000 damaged bricks were repaired and mortar replaced. Total cost: $70,000.00 A new partition was added to replace the old kitchen partition. Total cost: $2,000.00. Five central airs units were purchased for the administrative office, sound room and the fellowship hall. Total cost: $20,000.00.
2016 The year of Advancement. First Salem spent the year focusing on understanding the definition of “Team Jesus” and our role on the team. During this year the church sought to understand the playbook (the bible) more intently so that when members got on the playing field( the world) they were able to successfully run the plays and score touchdowns in witnessing, building their faith and overcoming the opposing team. First Salem started rebuilding ministries with renew focus on community and family fellowship. During the year of 2016, First Salem was able to acquire the Car Wash located across the street from the church, positioning ourselves to add with the two additional lots, parking for another 55 cars. The community garden located on the hill was successful in that it fed many people. First Salem continued to be a beacon of light in the community.
2017 The year of Reconciliation. First Salem is poised to reclaim and win souls for the Kingdom.