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NSUMCNorth Salem United Methodist Church

History of the North Salem United Methodist Church

North Salem United Methodist Church history can be traced back to the roots of Methodism in Salem. The original society formally met at Zion's Hill. The early meetings were probably in the nature of class meetings after the tradition of John Wesley and George Whitefield. Although there are no records, the most authentic source states that the first meetings were held at the house of Jacob Rowell, at the top of the hill in 1803. In 1805, the Rev. George Pickering of Boston came to preach and persuaded them to organize and secure a permanent home. In 1808 Moses Dow bequeathed in his will a fund for the support of the proposed "society" and, in 1809, a constitution was adopted and the society known as "the Methodist" was formed, comprised of Salem and Windham citizens. Land was secured at the northeast corner of Bluff Street and Zion's Hill Road. The church was built there in 1809, known as "The Methodist Liberty Meeting House", and continued in use until 1836 when it was considered too small.
In 1832, repairs to the meeting house were proposed and at a subsequent meeting a motion was substituted proposing to build a new meeting house. This separated the members into two factions and lead to the sale of the church building and its movement to Salem Center. From this point on there were two separate divisions of Methodists in Salem; the reorganized society at North Salem being the real parent stock of the old society.
At the first meeting on May 10, 1836 in the old school house near the river in North Salem, the members chose a committee to build a new meeting house at the present location on North Main Street. This building was only one story high and had just a single auditorium. In 1864, the church was raised and a vestry built beneath it. This building continued to serve the church until 1909 when it was destroyed by fire, which had started by the burning store next door.
Church officials met on December 11, 1909 where Jennie Taylor and Clara Chase were named as solicitors for the rebuilding of the church. Meetings were held in the brick schoolhouse (Palmer School) until March 1910 and then moved to the nearby fireman's hall on April 11, 1910. With the stipulation that the church be constructed in the Tudor style, financial aid came from Edward F. Searles of Methuen and the current church was constructed and occupied by the last Sunday of December in 1911.
The years from 1911-1950 saw the country going through WW I, The Great Depression, and WW II. Following WW II the influx of many young families created another period of exploding growth. From 1955 on until 1965, a large increase in membership required the North Salem Church to hold Sunday School classes again in the fireman's hall nearby on North Main Street, a neighbor's kitchen, as well as the church basement which was made into usable space in the 1970's. This was to house the 93 students and teachers of the thriving Sunday School.
Under the leadership of the Rev. John Torosian, a part time pastor who owned a home and a bakery in Haverhill MA, the old parsonage at 428 North Main Street was sold in 1964. The Jenny Taylor House next to the church was purchased to be repaired and remodeled as an educational building first and eventually a parsonage for a full time pastor.
During the years of 1965-1975 as the baby boomer children grew and left home, the membership was declining as well as the church building itself, and it became necessary to borrow money from the United Methodist Conference to start repairs until the Jenny Taylor House could be sold. The Methodist Conference decided in 1972 that the North Salem and Hannah Tenney Memorial churches would share a pastor, who would live in the Tenney parsonage on 321 Main Street (built in 1926) and whose expenses the two churches would share. Beginning with Rev. John Blackadar, 1971-1976, followed by Rev. Paul Higgins 1976-1983, Revs. Susan and Tony Jarek-Glidden 1983-1988, Rev. Lucille Brown 1988-1993, this policy stayed in place. The North Salem membership steadily increased to the point in 1993 a building committee again was created to plan for growth.
In 1992, the church trustees worked with the Sunday School superintendent and the town to found North Salem Preschool, an independently owned and operated enterprise to utilize the lower level of the church and provide greater exposure to the community.
In 1996, the four area United Methodist churches were charged by the UM Conference to create the Interstate Cooperative Ministry (ICM). This placed North Salem UMC and Hannah Tenney Memorial UMC at Salem Center under the direction of Rev. Sydney Pierce with Pleasant Street UMC at Salem Depot and Faith UMC of Methuen MA under Rev. Michael Bell, creating a new and experimental concept.
In late 1998, a major fund-raising drive to secure a new organ was overwhelmingly successful with the new organ being dedicated in early 1999.
The ICM continued through June 30, 1999. At this time it was decided that geographic and philosophical constituencies were better served by the previous church structure. Therefore on July 1, 1999, North Salem UMC and Hannah Tenney Memorial UMC returned to their previous arrangement of sharing a pastor and a parsonage lead by Rev James Lundin.
Growth, youth, and ministry to the community continue to be major goals of the North Salem UMC. As we enter the new millennium, a major effort is under way to study and act upon space needs for Sunday School classrooms, function space as well as the sanctuary.

Barratt's Chapel and Museum: The Cradle of Methodism
New England Conference - The United Methodist Church - The Roots of Methodism
United Methodist History