The Full Story
In the early 1880’s, Swedish missionaries conducted a preaching mission in northern Wisconsin. On July 8, 1883, a Swedish Baptist Church was organized in Ashland. A disagreement in the church led to a split. A meeting was called for mutual confession and forgiveness. It was agreed to dissolve both congregations and start anew. On December 14, 1890, Salem Baptist Church was born with 45 members. Salem means “shalom” or peace.
From 1893-1908 Salem fostered 7 sister churches. Sunday School was conducted in various homes in the 1880’s. From 1945-1953, the Sunday School branched out into several rural areas using the one-room school houses to meet in. In 1953, a bus/auto ministry began to bring adults & children from these outlying areas to Salem. An education wing was built in 1951 to accommodate the increased numbers.
With much discernment and prayer, a property at 1616 Beaser Avenue was purchased and in 1982, Salem moved into it’s newly constructed facility. Reflecting on this time, one member shared that “one of the greatest things to happen during the building was the oneness of spirit---getting to know each other, working together and sensing God’s presence and leading.”
Throughout the 80's, 90's, and 2000's God continued to use Salem in multiple, diverse ways to reach the Chequamegon Bay region. The focus of the church during these 3+ decades has been on families and particularly children while still celebrating those in later seasons of their lives and anyone else wanting to consider following Christ or desiring to move forward on their spiritual pathway. One particular highlight during this season was Salem partnering with Baynet, the Bay Area Youth Network, to minister to teenagers of the Bay area.
Also during this season Salem became even more intentional about outreach into our community and beyond. Through ministries like the Brick (a regional food pantry), Crossroads Outreach Center (both ministries that are now independent but were birthed out of Salem) and several other ministries addressing various other needs and opportunities in the Ashland area, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been and is being lived out in both word and deed.
On October 31st, 2015, an arsonist set fire to the 1982 building, completely destroying it and launching Salem into a new season. Unwavered, Salem remains committed to spreading the gospel message to the Northwoods of Wisconsin and to the very ends of the earth. We broke ground for a new church building sometime in 2016 and completed it sometime in 2017.
Since being in the new ministry facility the spaces have been used for many gatherings. The Ashland community has been able to use our space as well. Salem continues to pursue life's missions of seeing people transformed into totally devoted followers of Jesus. We look forward to many more years of fruitful ministry where God is glorified.
Salem is affiliated with Converge Worldwide and is part of the Converge Great Lakes Conference of approximately 110 churches.