From the onset, Salem was special. It would be the administrative center
of Wachovia, the 100,000 acres of land the Moravian Church had purchased
in 1753. The Lord chose the site through the Lot. Zinzendorf gave it its
name, Salem, Shalom - Peace. Still today the very streets of the community
that grew up there seem special. And the church in the heart of Salem is
now known as Home Moravian.
The site for Salem was selected on February 14, 1765, and the first tree
felled on January 6, 1766. In five short years a veritable town had arisen
out of the surrounding wilderness, including six dwelling houses, several
industries, the Brothers House on the Square, and a tavern for strangers
a suitable distance down Main Street. Last to be completed in that first
burst of building was the Gemein House, the congregation meeting house, which
was consecrated on the day the Salem congregation was formally organized,
on November 13, 1771, the festal day of the Chief Elder of the Moravian Church.
The following spring the Provincial administration was transferred from Bethabara
to Salem, completing the plan for a central administrative community for
Hardly had the congregation been organized than schools were started for
the children of the community, first the boys in December 1771 and then the
little girls in April 1772. The Boys School no longer functions; it last
closed its doors in 1909. But the girls school was later combined with the
Female Boarding Academy, begun in 1803, and grew to become the Salem Academy
and College of today.
The Salem congregation flourished and quickly ourgrew its 1771 Gemein House.
A new house of worship, one large enough to serve far into the future was
erected and first used on November 9, 1800. Since then it has undergone numerous
renovations, the one of 1912 and 1913 being the most extensive, leaving the
church pretty much as it is today with its stained glass windows, curved
pews and balcony, and chancel for the organ and choir loft.
The work of the Salem congregation members has led to the formation of a
number of other Moravian churches. The Sisters of the congregation in 1822
formed the Female Missionary Society, which was instrumental in the start
and early work of what became St. Philips Moravian Church. Outreach
by members into the mountains of Virginia led to the formation of the Home
Mission Society in 1835 and the organizing of Mount Bethel Moravian Church
in 1852. Sunday schools organized and conducted by Salem members in the late
1800's led to the formation of Fries Memorial, Calvary, Christ, Fairview,
and Trinity Moravian Churches. In fact, it was in the Sunday school that
the Salem church was first called "Home" in 1878. In less than 10 years the
congregation itself was being called the "Home Church."
Today Home Moravian Church remains a highly active congregation, working
through outreach and growth for the cause of Christ.
Moravian Archives, 2002