In 1844, church services were begun for Salem Lutheran Church in the home of Michael Ottinger (1801-1877) and his wife Elizabeth Winter Ottinger (1801-1897). Rev. A.J. Fox held a pastorate in Greeneville. The Ottingers were of Pennsylvania dutch origin.
The first Baptism was April 4, 1844 and the first Communion was Nov. 3, of the same year.
Salem Lutheran Church was organized sometime in 1845. The first church building was a small, white, wood-frame building without heating facilities, which stood about 200 yards down the hill below the cemetery on land that had been donated by Michael Ottinger. In the winter log fires were built outside so that people could warm themselves before the service. A stone marker in the nearby cemetery indicates the location of the church.
German and Dutch immigrants, their families and residents of the area worshiped in this modest church until 1906
In 1873 the original building was remodeled and enlarged, and it was rededicated in 1874, probably by the pastor, Rev. J.C. Barb (1871-1876).
In 1905, the congregation began making plans for a new church building to be placed at the top of the hill above the cemetery. On October 7, 1906, the new church, built by parishioners in the traditional American colonial style was dedicated. and the Rev. R.C. Holland preached the sermon. The Rev. H.E. Sloop was pastor. The building was a white wooden structure with a seating capacity of 300 and was considered a very beautiful building. The building committee consisted of John Ottinger, G.D. Ottinger, James F. Neas, John Neas and J. Frank Neas.
Aug. 5, 1920 – The first parsonage and farm were purchased. On that date the Holston Synod was meeting there, and a few members, being disgusted because of lack of space on which to park their automobiles and horse-drawn vehicles, got busy during the noon break and raised the money needed ($2,200) to buy the adjacent property for a parking lot.
November 5,1921 – Constitution and By-Laws for Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cocke County, TN was adopted
In 1925 the Holston Conference, to which Salem belonged, became a part of the Lutheran Synod of Virginia.
One Hundred Year Anniversary
In the fall of 1945 the 100th anniversary of the congregation was held, and Dr. W.C. Davis was pastor at the time. Former pastors present at the celebration included the Rev. B.S. Brown, the Rev. B.D, Castor, the Rev. A.J.’s Shumate, and the Rev. W.H. Roof. Plans were underway to build a new church on top of the hill. The offering of the day, $2300, was applied to the building fund.
To help with the planning for the new building, Pastor Davis and several members took a trip to tour some churches in North and South Carolina and the style of architecture decided upon with Gothic. A visitation of the membership was made and about $38,000 was pledged. Bealer and Wilhoit of Knoxville were employed as architects and in the spring of 1948 the congregation voted to begin construction. Several bids were received; some unsatisfactory, and it was decide to build on the cost-plus plan. The cost was to be $60,000 without windows and furnishings. Plans for the securing of funds and finding an interim location for services continued until May 30, 1948. On that day the last service was held in the old church and razing began the next day. For the next eleven months the services were held in the auditorium of the Parrottsville Elementary School.
Nov. 20, 1949, a dedication was held for the new Gothic-style church, which is still used today. Thanks to generous contributions, some of the building features in the building are as follows:
- a white marble baptismal font;
- oak pews;
- a wooden altar (built by Mr. James Kenyon);
A series of richly-colored stained glass windows each depicting Jesus; the twelve disciples; Martin Luther (founder of the Lutheran Church); and Pastor Muhlenberg, who was the first ordained Lutheran pastor to settle in America. The windows were purchased in Germany shortly after World War II; each at a cost of $500, by the parishioners. Gallery 2ashows windows on the North side and Gallery2b shows those on the South side. A wooden sounding board painstakingly crafted by Kenyon hangs above and behind the altar; high-arching wooden entrance doors that are replicas of the original doors installed by Kenyon. The bell that hung over the door of the first wood frame building now hangs in Salem’s bell tower. The floor plan is in the shape of a cross with the sanctuary representing the vertical and the three floor church school building, which houses the office and Sunday School rooms representing the horizontal.The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Schulz, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Knoxville. Dr. J .Luther Mauney, president of the Virginia Synod, conducted the dedication service. Former pastors present included the Rev. W.H. Ruth, the Rev. B.S. Brown, the Rev. B.D. Castor, and the Rev. A.J. Shumate
The building committee was composed of D. Glenn Ottinger (Chairman), Powell Ottinger, W. T. Neas, Berlin Neas, Dr. Lloyd Neas, Wayne Eisenhower, C. H. Ottinger, Walter Kilgore, Herbert LaFolette, Junius Neas, Emory Bible, Joe Bacon, Edgar Ottinger, Mel Ottinger, Miller Neas, Henry Ottinger, Edd Hawk, Dr. W.C. Davis, and representatives from the Sunday School, the Lutheran League and the Women’s Mission-ary Society.
Nov. 6, 1949 – the first confirmation class: Barbara June Blazer, Jake Bible, Everette Trent Eisenhower, Barbara Jean Eisenhower, Wilma Faye Hawk, Larry Gordon Hawk, Billy Joe Kilgore, Vera Faye Lethoco, Gwendolyn Mooneyham, Dorothy June Neas, Phillip Neas, Howard Eugene LaFollette, Everette Clark Smith, and Emma June Smith.
August 31, 1950 – first marriage: George Ray Nease and Mildred Shell
September 16, 1950 – second marriage: Trent Ottinger and Mary McMahan.
1955 – our first organ was purchased and Vacation Bible School attendance was 256.
In 1962 – Salem, along with the other churches in the area, became a part of the Southeastern Synod.
In 1964, during the pastorate of Rev. SL Spangler, the present manse was built
Two members, Elmer Kinser and L.C. Sparks Jr, who were born, baptized and reared in this congregation, become Lutheran ministers. Both are now retired from the ministry.
One Hundred Thirty-year Anniversary
September 28,1975 – 130th Anniversary of Salem Lutheran Church was celebrated with a special church service. Dr. J. Luther Mauney, president of the Virginia Senate of the Lutheran Church in America, was preacher for the day. The Rev. W. Dexter Moser, secretary of the Southeastern Synod of the Lutheran Church in America was lector. The Rev. Wallace Morton, pastor of the Salem Lutheran Church at the time was liturgist.
A dedication service was held in the afternoon for the marker at the foot of the hill where the first church was located in 1846. This marker was given by the family of the late I. K. LaFollette in his memory to the glory of God. Dr. B. S. Brown, pastor of Salem from 1916 to 1924, led the service and Blanche Hogan gave the history of the church for the past 130 years.
On November 5, 1975 the Rev. Wallace Morton offered his resignation to be effective December 31, 1975. Five people were selected to the pulpit committee: Trent Ottinger, Melba Suggs, Terry Kinser, Roger Hawk, and Walter Kilgore.
On May 9, 1976 the Rev. Edward R. “Ned” Post was installed as the minister of the Parrottsville Parish, which included Salem and Luther Memorial Lutheran Churches, by W. Dexter Moser, Secretary-Treasurer of the Southeastern Synod of Lutheran Churches.
1978-1979 – New hymnals were purchased and in September of 1979, an old-fashioned Gospel Hymn-Sing was held. The offering was donated to the March of Dimes.
In 1980 – The Tri-County Lutheran Cluster Social Ministry composed of St. James, Solomon, Reformation, Sinking Springs, Holy Trinity, Good Shepherd, Salem and Luther Memorial churches sponsored a preaching mission.
In November 1984, a preaching mission was held – Rev. L.C. Sparks, Jr was the guest speaker.
In the fall of 1984, a new Baldwin organ was purchased at the cost of approximately $18,000, and on December 2, 1984, Mr. Bene Hammel presented an organ concert. If ever the rafters shook, it was on that Sunday afternoon.
In 1984 – The parking lot was paved for about $6000
One Hundred Forty-Year Anniversary
On September 8, 1985 the church celebrated the 140th anniversary. Invitations were sent to all former pastors and their spouses. That committee was as follows: Blanche Hogan, Mary D. Ottinger, Judy Post, the Rev. Ned Post, Dorothy Ottinger, Nancy John-son, Inez Ottinger, George Ray Nease, Ted LaFollette, Bill Seneker, Castor Ottinger, and Helen Huff.
Bishop Gerald Troutman of the Southeastern Synod delivered the message for the day from the Gospel of St. Mark. Among the special guests of the day were the following former pastors and their spouses:
- The Rev. Albert J. and Lottie Shumate, Rural Retreat, Virginia
- The Rev. Wallace and Lucy Morton, Kannapolis, North Carolina
- Son of the Congregation: the Rev. L. C. And Betty Sparks, Kingsport ,Tennessee.
Ted LaFollette prepared and presented the 140 years of church history in the afternoon session. Some of the activities and projects noted were:
- 1985 a new typewriter and copy machine were purchased for make bulletins;
- The Benevolence fund has been met and paid in full from 1975 to 1985.
- The church has seen its budget grow in the last 10 years from $18,862.50 to $36,538.34.
- From 1975 to 1985, 66 new members have been added, 28 by confirmation, 16 by transfer, and 22 by baptism.
April 30, 1987 – Pastor “Ned” Post disappeared for a month. He said he left because of stress, mounting community obligations, and a “mid-life” crisis. Although leaving with no plans for his destination, during his month off he travelled to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Upon his return he apologized to his family, friends and his church for the pain and worry he caused them, but he was not ashamed of his actions because it was something he felt he had to do.
On May 28, 1987, Pastor Edward R “Ned” Post resigned from the parish. A search committee was formed consisting of chairperson Melba Suggs, J. R. Kinser, George Ray Neas, and Lonnie Hawk (from Salem Lutheran), and L. B. Ottinger, J. D. Barger and Aileen Barger from Luther Memorial.
August 14,1988, a call was extended to the Rev. Stephen G. Damos, an associate pastor from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Knoxville Tennessee. He -accepted the call and preached his first sermon on September 18, 1988. His installation was held at Salem church on October 2, 1988. Bishop Harold Skillrud, of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, installed the Rev. Stephen G. Damos as pastor of the Parrottsville Parish Lutheran Churches. Many of the area Lutheran pastors were present and participated in the service. They were as follows:
- the Rev. Harvey Huntley, Jr, Messiah, Knoxville
- the Rev. Paul E. Parlowe, Midway
- the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, Good Shepherd, Knoxville
- the Rev. Randy Palm, St. James, Greeneville
- the Rev. Dana Palm, St. James, Greeneville
- the Rev. Nancy Andrews, Holy Trinity, Newport
- the Rev. Gerald D. Bultman, Reformation, Greenville
January 1, 1988 the LCA, ALC, and the AELC merged into one and became the ELCA – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – which Salem Lutheran Church and Luther Memorial Church belong as the Parrottsville Parish Lutheran Churches.
(The Benevolence Fund was paid in full from 1985 to 1988.)
One Hundred Fifty-Year Anniversary
In Sept.1995 – the 150-year anniversary celebration was held. Music was provided by the Mathis Sisters, the Marilyn Price Singers, and a brass ensemble by Rick Drybread, Brad Davidson, Steve Paris, and Jordan Ramsey.
One Hundred Sixty-Year Anniversary
Sunday, September 26, 2005 – 160th anniversary of Salem Lutheran Church was celebrated beginning with a fellowship hour at 3 PM. Worship service followed at 4. The Rev. Kathleen Yates, pastor, preached the sermon.
A series of interim pastors followed Pastor Kay until, in September, 2008, the Rev. Jack Wilder was called to be our minister.
We have had several organist and pianists over the years, including the following (Please forgive the spelling if I have mispelled a name):
Bev Hannah, Lynn Smith, Helen Juff, Rhonda Hawk, Marilyn Hawk, Mr. Bobby Smith, Mrs. Newell LaFollette, Mis Wanda Spingle, Mrs. Richard Snow, Rhonda Winter, Peggy Ottinger, Ruth LaFollette, and Shelby J. Wagner.
In February, 2013, ^ Rev. Patrick McLaughlin became pastor of the Parrottsville Lutheran Parish. During the spring of 2014 we become aware of just how to put into practice the motto, “God’s Work. Our Hands”, as we began planning and planting a garden on the property for the sole purpose of giving the vegetables away to the poor, or anyone in need. Please click on the above link “God’s Work, Our Hands” for more information on the garden.
In the spring of 2015, the Common Grounds Ministry began as a project to offer a place within the city of Parrottsville for Christians to gather once a week for fellowship. It is located in the Fellowship Hall of the Parrottsville United Methodist Church, downtown Parrottsville.
Rev. McLaughlin was called to pastor a church in College Square, TX. The Parrottsville Parish is now awaiting a new pastor to be called here in TN.