WEST DECATUR – “Come to the church by the wildwood; Oh, come to the church in the vale; No spot is so dear to my childhood; As the little brown church in the vale” is the ringing chorus to the beloved hymn by William Pitts.
That is the feeling that the congregants of the Salem United Methodist Church in West Decatur are celebrating this coming Sunday. Come home to their dear, little church in the vale.
On Sunday, July 22, Salem United Methodist Church will celebrate a milestone in local history, its 170th anniversary of Christ-centered fellowship.
Salem United Methodist Church members invite their church family – past, present and future – to attend the 10 a.m. Homecoming Celebration service.
It will include special music by Rich Woods, a look at Salem Church’s history, followed by a sandwich luncheon and a time of reflection and fellowship.
Located on Salem Road, one mile south of Bigler, the Salem United Methodist Church started as a congregation of the United Brethren Society Church in 1848.
It is considered by Clearfield County historians to be the “mother” of several local United Brethren Society congregations, including those in Spring Valley, Wallaceton and Chester Hill.
Former Church Historian and late beloved congregant of Salem, Helen Baughman had said Salem Church is one of the oldest (E.U.B.) United Methodist Churches in Clearfield County to still be used as weekly worship center.
If still standing, many churches that began as E.U.B. (Evangelical United Brethren) are only used for special occasions.
The Evangelical United Brethren Church, different from the current-day Church of United Brethren in Christ, joined with the Methodist denomination in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church, changing the name from Salem E.U.B Church to Salem United Methodist Church.
Salem United Methodist Church in West Decatur is a member of the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church.
It sends a representative to the annual conference and has met the 100 percent yearly goal in the Shares of Ministry, which supports the missions of the Susquehanna United Methodist Conference.
With an average of 38 attendees for weekly services, Woodland native Pastor Michael Knepp is pleased to look upon the congregation from the youngest toddler to the older members who have been there for years and even to those who have recently found a worship family in the other members at Salem.
From joyful singing to meditative prayers, services at Salem United Methodist Church are a balm to the soul, according to church members.
Through many years of service, facing tribulations of fire, progress from a central woodstove, electricity and renovations, Salem United Methodist Church has stood the test of time with the heart of its faithful members and the care of numerous ministers.
Church members say the walls are calling the “family home” Sunday and all are welcome as in Ephesians 3:17: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love.”