Salem United Church of Christ (1848-Present)

Rt K, Southeast of California


The first log church building built in the late 1840s (left) and the current church built in 1858 (right).


From Goodspeed's 1889 History of Cole, Moniteau, etc Counties, Missouri:

The German Lutherans celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organ­ization of their church in the German Settlement (six miles east of the county sent) in October, 1879. Rev. Hofmeister, who officiated at the opening of their first church in 1854, was present.


From Ford's 1936 History of Moniteau County:

In this, known as the German Settlement, religious services began in 1848 under the leadership of Rev. Johann Friederich Kowing and Rev. August Rauschenbush. Thirteen families in this year organized the North Moreau church, with Rev. Carl Hofmeister as pastor dividing his time be­tween this and a congregation of fourteen German families on the Moniteau. He was given additional territory by the American Home Missionary Society under whose auspices he worked, making a total of six congregations in his charge, in a territory sixty miles in length. This required him to make n horseback ride of 120 miles or more every two weeks.


A log church built in 1851 still stands. However as the membership grew, the present church was built in 1858 and the old church used for school purposes.


In early days the members walked seven and eight miles to church. Many wore wooden shoes or went barefoot until near the church. Young men would come horse back with their girls in long black riding skirts upon the horse be­hind them. The sty block was as necessary as a hitch rack. A certain gentleman who attended wore a stovepipe hat. Hoops were much in evidence for a good many years and the ladies had some difficulty in sitting in the narrow high backed benches. The men always sat on one side of the aisle, the women on the other, as was customary in other churches at that time.


From the 1980 History of Moniteau County:

In April, 1848 a group of families having recently came from various parts of Germany settled in a densely wooded area 6 miles from California (Southeast) In Moniteau County now on Route K.


Before their homes were fully established they met together to worship God and organize the church of their faith. They called It "The North Moreau Evangelical Church" naming It for the Moreau River that formed the southern boundary of the then called “German Settlement.”


Now after several denominational mergers the church is known as the Salem United Church of Christ.


There were many difficulties encountered at first, but with the help of The American Home Missionary Society of New York, they were able to call a pastor, Rev. Carl Hoffmeister, at a salary of $100 per year, He also served other churches and traveled by horseback.


The first church, built of logs in 1851 still stands, well preserved. It served as a German school after the present church, which has been remodeled several times since, was built in 1858


Until 1889 the pastor at Salem supplied both California and Salem churches and lived in the Salem parsonage. Since 1922 when the Rev. Paul Niedermeyer, the last resident pastor left, it is reversed with the California pastor also supplying Salem. Twenty pastors, including 3 generations of Umbecks, have served Salem. Through their dedicated lives and service we have been richly blest.


In 1947 each family cut and donated oak logs to be made into pews. In 1948 a basement was built and modern utilities added. The beautiful antique kerosene chandeliers were renovated and converted to electricity and hung in the Sanctuary.


The 1948 centennial year was observed by almost a thousand people with services and a dinner, former pastors and members and friends coming from many states. In the evening a historical pageant, written by Kathryn Lammert Royse, was presented. The 125th and 130th anniversaries as well as the National Bicentennial were observed.

An active Sunday School is maintained. Christmas programs have been omitted only twice-once during the Civil War, the other during the 1918 flu epidemic. Memorial and Mission days are observed, charitable programs supported. An annual ice cream social brings friends and former members from many communities for an evening of fellowship and fun.


Three pastors have served in the past 31 years: The Reverends Paul Shoppe, Elmer Koch, and Marvin Kirchhoff, the present pastor who has been here since 1963.

Present officers are: President, Gary L. Walter; Vice President. Louis Strobel; Treasurer, Bobby L. Crawford; Financial Secretary, Wesley Schneider; Secretary, John Boehme, Cemetery Secretary and Treasurer, Mrs. Carl Martin, Pianist, Mrs. Bobby L. Crawford: Sunday School Superintendent, Mrs. James Gibler; Assistant Superintendent, Tracy Strobel; and Sunday School Secretary, Dorothy Boehme, and Elmer Strobel, cemetery caretaker.


A well kept rural cemetery was dedicated in 1850. It is maintained through dues, lot sales, and memorial gifts put into a perpetual fund.


Down through the years we feel the workings of God's hands. To Him be the Glory!


From the 2000 History of Moniteau County:

Salem United Church of Christ, McGirk, Missouri, another Rooster Church has the emblem, warning against the Sin of Peter celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary October 11, 1998. In April, 1848, families arrived from Germany and settled in a densely wooded area six miles southeast of California. While establishing their homes, they met to worship God and organized a church called The North Moreau Evangelical Church because the Moreau Creek formed the southern boundary of the so-called "German Settlement." Many difficulties were encountered but in August the Rev. Carl Hoffmeister was called to be the pastor by thirteen families living in the community. To make a living, he also served five other churches and traveled on horseback a circuit of 120 to 130 miles every two weeks.


In 1849, Salem's first log church was started, but was not completed and dedicated until Sunday, November 12, 1854. On Monday, November 13, 1854, the cemetery was dedicated. Salem's first two-room log parsonage had also been completed for the Hoffmeister family in the fall of 1853.


The first log church still stands and is well preserved. It served as a German school after the present church was built in 1858. Since 1961, the cemetery has been beautifully kept with perpetual care. The first parsonage was destroyed by fire in 1897 along with many of the early church records. A second seven-room parsonage was dedicated on Thanksgiving, 1898, and was occupied by Salem's pastors until 1922; the last being the Rev. and Mrs. Paul Neidermeyer and family. This parsonage was moved in 1997 to a lot on Route K. Until 1889, the pastor at Salem supplied both the California and Salem congregations and lived in the Salem parsonage.


Ninteen pastors and six students or interim ministers have served Salem during the 150 years. Pastors serving during the last 50 years [as of 2000] are the Rev. Paul Schoppe, Rev. E. L. Koch, Rev. Marvin Kirchhoff, and Rev. Gary M. Schulte.


During the years improvements have continued to be made. In 1947, church families cut and donated oak logs to be made into pews. In 1948, a basement was built primarily by the men of the church. In August 1948, Salem's centennial celebration was observed by former pastors, members, and friends from many states. In 1958, the beautiful antique chandeliers were renovated and converted to electricity and hung in the sanctuary. A vestibule was built in 1983. The shelter house was built and basement renovated in 1995.


Salem has maintained an active Sunday School. Christmas programs have been omitted only twice - once during the Civil War, the other during the 1919 flu epidemic. Memorial and mission days are observed and charitable programs supported. An annual ice cream social brings friends and former members together for an evening of fellowship.


Down through the years this church has been a blessing to all who have attended it and an inspiration to the community.


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