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Salem Mennonite Church
The first Mennonites came to Oregon starting in 1876. The earliest Mennonite church established in the immediate Salem area was in Pratum in 1890. The immigrants were of Swiss Mennonite background from the Eastern and Mid-Western states or were more recent European immigrants to the United States, mainly from Russia. Some of the latter groups settled in the local region and in 1916 started a hospital in Salem known as the Salem Deaconess Home and Hospital. Franz (F. B.) Wedel and several "sisters" or deaconesses–trained nurses who had been ordained to care for the sick–started and operated the health facility. The hospital was the forerunner of the present Salem Hospital and was situated at the same location.

In 1945, members of the contingent of Mennonites in Salem originally from the eastern United States, or their descendants, cooperated in the establishment of their own high school. This school, Western Mennonite School, located on Wallace Road 10 miles north of Salem, is still in operation. It presently includes middle school grades as well as the high school on its campus. Students include Mennonites and non-Mennonites alike, many of whom live in salem. Salem Mennonite church is very much involved in the school’s support and is blessed with the attendance ans haring of talents of many of the teachers and staff in return.

Most Mennonites around Salem had traditionally grown up with the rural heritage of their parents and grandparents. As more of them moved to Salem for other than farm occupations, the need for a place of worship nearer than their home churches became important. A group of families began meeting together in 1960 and developed a full congregational program, organizing officially on November 12, 1961. In 1967, the congregation moved to its new building and its present address at 1045 Candlewood Drive NE. When Keizer was incorporated, the church which had been outside Salem’s city limits was just inside the boundaries of the new city.

As followers of Jesus Christ, members of Salem Mennonite church look to his life and teachings for their guide to living. As Jesus came to serve rather than to be served, so members try to serve in various ways an give to those in need. A high percentage of the congregation are nurses or in related health occupations in Salem. Nurses have organized an active Parish Nurse Group to provide help and guidance in health-related matters. Another large number among the congregation are those in the field of education. The church actively works with other Mennonite Churches in the Willamette Valley to sponsor an annual festival at the Linn County Fairgrounds. Its purpose is to raise funds for Mennonite Central Committee, an international organization whose efforts are directed toward relief and development programs in developing countries.

Church members try to be good neighbors wherever they life. They have traditionally not been involved in political life or civic government. Most recently, through a coalition made up of the church, they Southeast Keizer Neighborhood Association, Catholic Community Services, Keizer United and representatives of state Adult and Family Services and the Keizer Police Department, a community center has been started one night a week in the meeting room of the church facility. The goal is to provide activities for children and families in the neighborhood.

Note: For further information on the history of Mennonites in Oregon, see Apart & Together: Mennonites in Oregon and Neighboring States, 1876-1976. Lind, Hope Kauffman. Herald Press, 1990.


Salem Mennonite Church
Salem Mennonite Church
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