Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

The Ole Salem Church was drawn with pencil by Jean Bradley’s sister in law, Mary Ann Reynolds, who originally drew it for the cover a a cookbook they created to help raise money in their earlier years.

Quaint and ‘welcoming’, the Old Salem Church seems to speak through its walls to people who drive by, to stop in and visit. Built in 1885, it still stands and people stand with it.

Though it has been also known as the Salem Methodist Church, Meadow Creek Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, it holds true now to its sign on the front wall, ‘Old Salem Church’.

“The first service was probably held in 1885, the year the building was completed & the deed was written giving ownership to the church,” Jean Bradley shared. Bradley has been an active member of the church, as she attended the church when she was a small girl.

“The church was closed for regular services in 1963,” Bradley continued. “At that time ladies, some who still had their memberships at the church and others who had grown up in that church, started having the home comings to keep the church “alive”.”

The ‘Homecomings’ and annual picnics have been going on since the 1970’s, after it was closed as an active church. Bradley has been spearheading the annual organization since 2001.

The charming little church, located approximately six miles west of New Castle, on Route 42 on Cumberland Gap Road, will open it’s doors to yet another ‘Homecoming’ Picnic and get-together on Sunday, August 20.

“The picnic begins at 1pm and everyone is encouraged to attend, bring a dish and enjoy the day!” Bradley exclaimed.

With help from many, the little church will be ready for everyone. Bradley’s family helps with many of the preparations and the grounds. “Craig & Lois Elmore is always a big help & supporter of the church and Kathy Jones always decorates beautifully inside,” Bradley said.

Over the last several years, there has been a lot of work completed on and in the church. “On August 2000, those who still loved the little brick church, got together and decided to start repairs so the church could once again have services inside,” Bradley shared. “For some time the interior of the church’s was in such bad shape that services had to be held under the trees or under the picnic pavilion.”

Today, the church has a new ceiling, refinished floors, new windows, new paint job and a new piano – just to name a few. There are still two services which are held each year (weather permitting). The third Sunday in August is Homecoming and and the first Sunday in December is the Annual Christmas Candlelight Service.

At this year’s ‘Homecoming’, there will be a special message given by Cody Rader and good ole’ favorites, sung and played by ‘Junior Christian and friends’.

“Bring your chair and a dish and a smile!” many have said who invite others. “There are no strangers at this ‘Homecoming’ for everyone is welcome!” Bradley added.

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