Salem Missionary Baptist

candler County
Org 1875
Photography by Bryan Stovall

Salem Missionary Baptist church was founded in 1875 by members who met “on the dam of the mill pond owned by BW Lee on the bank of Fifteen Mile Creek”.  The church you see above was built in 1879 and is in remarkable condition.  Improvements have been made over the years but the sanctuary reflects the historical simplicity of earlier times.

The church was formed in Candler County by members from two nearby churches i.e. Poplar Springs Baptist and Lake Primitive Baptist.  Members left the Poplar Springs church because the location was closer to Metter and more convenient, while some congregants left Lake Primitive Baptist because they strongly believed in Missions. Salem was the mother church of the Metter First Baptist church which was organized in 1900.

This part of Southeast Georgia is very strong Primitive Baptist country.  In the 1830’s and 1840’s there was dissent among Baptists over missions and other issues not mentioned in the Scriptures.  A schism occurred and by 1844 two distinct denominations had emerged, one known as the New School (pro-mission, later to become the Southern or Missionary Baptists) and the other known as the Old School (anti-mission, later to become the Primitive or Regular Baptists).

Erroneous interpretation of the term Primitive in describing the denomination has been inflammatory over the years, and the term should be construed as meaning simply “of early times; of long ago; first of the kind; very simple; original.” By 1848 almost all Baptist bodies in the state had aligned themselves with one side or the other.

Salem is a jewel of a church located on Salem Church Road in rural Candler County.  We are grateful to the congregants of Salem Missionary Baptist for their stewardship over the years of this historical sanctuary.  Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more history and cemetery genealogy.