New Salem Baptist Church

Decatur County, Iowa
New Salem Baptist Church is located about 5 or 6 miles south of Leon, going south on Main Street and following the main paved road as it turns and twists through the Decatur County countryside.

A congregation of 22 people gathered to establish the New Salem Regular Baptist church in 1858. A church building was erected on the Cannonball Trail, later known as the Leon-Pleasanton Road. The first church was made of brick and located on the top of the near near the present-day site. A 2-story frame church was built in 1875. A third church building was dedicated in 1900. When it was destroyed by a windstorm, the present-day church was built in 1934. The New Salem Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist congregation in Decatur County.

The belfry has been cut down and the bell mounted by the main entrance to the church. There are new pews and the sanctuary has been carpeted. A kitchen has been added opposite of the sanctuary with sliding wooden doors to separate the two. Off the east side of the church, an addition for Sunday School classes was added in 1958.

When my daughter attended Vacation Bible School at the New Salem Baptist Church, I thought the belfry was still intact. Sunday School and Vacation Bible School classes were held in the basement of the church.
Photographs and submission courtesy of Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013; updated July of 2015
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