First Salem Church was born from the merger of two churches in 1969. First United Church of Christ and Salem United Church of Christ. These two churches have a long and rich history in Wichita.
First Church was founded in 1884 as a missionary plant. Reverend Isaac G. Brown took a leave of absence from Trinity Reformed Church in Mercersburg Pennsylvania in 1882.
Reverend Brown had served Trinity for 25 years. Reverend Brown returned to Wichita in 1883 and the first Sunday of Advent 1884, the congregation was formed. Reverend Brown died less than a year later on May 8, 1885. The church was renamed Brown Memorial Reformed Church during this period.
In 1930 the church changed its name once again to First Reformed Church.
By 1934 the Evangelical and Rerformed churches had merged and the church changed its name to First Evangelical and Reformed church.
In 1957, the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed churches merged forming the United Church of Christ. First church followed suite and changed its name to First United church of Christ.
Salem Church was founded in 1885 by Reverend Paul Mueller as Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church as a part of the Ohio Synod, now the American Lutheran Church. The church retained this name until 1888.
In 1888, Pastor Kohlmann, a pastor from the Evangelical Synod was called to pastor the church and it was at this time they church left the Lutheran tradition and became an Evangelical church and dropping “Lutheran” from the church name. In the period 1914-1918 due to hostilities with Germany, the church dropped “German” from the church name and renamed the church Friedens Evangelic Church and also stopped using German in the church services and church records.
Finally in 1918, the church was Renamed Salem Evangelical Church. Following a similar path as First Church, Salem was eventually called Salem United Church of Christ.
In 1969, when the two churches merged, the name First Salem United Church of Christ was adopted to reflect the history of both churches. First Salem continued to be affiliated with the United Church of Christ until March of 2013.
Under the leadership of the current pastor, Pastor Dan Syrcle, the church left the United Church of Christ, dropping that from the name of the church and becoming an independent church at that time.