How much of the Salisbury history do you know? How many people who call Salisbury home even know why it is called the Salisbury Church? You might enjoy knowing some of the details about Salisbury's heritage.
Salisbury was first organized as a community in 1837. Settling on a name proved to be difficult. It was first called Stewart, but there was already a community by that name. Image Thus, the surname of one of its founders, John Ashby, was used. However, that name inevitably caused confusion with the community of Ashley. Another founder, John Hulen, was originally from Salisbury, North Carolina, and so Salisbury it was. It remained that way for over 125 years until confusion with another Salisbury near Springfield caused one last change to be made. The State of Illinois declared that our Salisbury would be known as Hutton which is the name of the local township today.
Except for a few personal homes clustered just up the road from the church, not much remains of Salisbury today. However, that has not always been the case. In 1879, Salisbury boasted three blacksmiths, a doctor, a postmaster, a justice of the peace and a Masonic lodge. However, there was no church. Several people from the Salisbury community were traveling a mile south to worship in a church that was called "Little Flock." One mile could be a formidable distance in those days, so they decided to gather for worship right in town. They used an empty store until a church building was finished in the late 1880's. That building stood on the present site of the Salisbury Church. That first church building burnt in 1917, so the people gathered in a lodge hall until a new structure was completed in 1918. In 1970 the current sanctuary was added. The 1918 building remained in use until it was torn down in 1980.
The Salisbury Church was originally organized as a United Brethren Church which traces its roots back to 1800. Philip Otterbein, a German Reformed pastor, and Martin Boehm, a Mennonite, became concerned about Germans in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, who were not hearing the gospel in their own language. Using Methodist polity, practice and doctrine, they formed the United Brethren in Christ Church. Salisbury remained United Brethren until 1946 when a merger created what was known as the Evangelical United Brethren or EUB. Salisbury was an EUB church until 1964 when it chose to avoid a merge that created the United Methodist Church. It was then that the congregation of Salisbury became nondenominational which simply means that it is not affiliated with any controlling body of churches.
Services were different in those early days from what we are used to today. They would open with two or three songs followed by prayer. Someone would have a devotional reading after which Sunday School classes would begin. Preaching was usually only available every fourth or fifth week depending on the number of churches on the circuit. A circuit was a group of churches that shared a preacher. Salisbury was on a circuit that included Weaver, Liberty, and Unity Churches.
The record books provide an interesting glimpse into that day. For instance, on February 1, 1920, there were 21 people in attendance with an offering of 31 cents. On May 8, 1921, there were 92 people present for church and $1.25 in the offering. The annual report for 1927 shows an average attendance of 51 and a total offering of $39.69. My, how times have changed!
There are many names and dates of significance in the history of Salisbury Church, and the following are just two examples. Hugh Smith pastored Salisbury Church on two different occasions, from 1938-42 and again from 1948-52. Rev. Smith was the grandfather of Duska Cornwell, a youth director here at Salisbury during the 90's. Another name of modern significance is Ray Finney. Rev. Finney came here to his first pastorate in 1963 and stayed until 1991. He Ministered Salisbury for twenty-eight years and set in place much of the foundation for what is continuing today. Scott Sims has been pastor at Salisbury Church since that time.
The ministry of Salisbury Church enjoys a rich and blessed heritage. It is our plan to continue to keep it in a place where God can pour His blessing upon us and expand His kingdom through us. To God be the glory!