Since 1871 Salem has been a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a conservative branch of the Lutheran Church worldwide, sharing the Gospel of salvation in Jesus as the only true hope for lives today and in eternity.
1851. Texas was experiencing a European migration as significant as any in America’s history. Among all those seeking a new life in a new country was Heinrich Braschler, a young man leaving his home in Switzerland behind, trusting God for safe passage and clear direction for his future.
Young Braschler arrived in New Orleans from Europe with only the clothes on his back after enduring a transatlantic sea voyage plagued by storms and shipwrecks. Adding insult to injury, Heinrich was robbed of his last few Swiss francs in New Orleans. Penniless and destitute, he received assistance from local pastors to arrive in Houston by steamboat.
Heinrich made contact with another Lutheran pastor who encouraged Heinrich to enter the pastoral ministry. Braschler was ordained on July 6, 1851 and subsequently dispatched to a community known as Spring Creek. Greeted by the German families establishing farms and homes in the vicinity, Pastor Braschler preached his first sermon on July 20, 1851 and Salem Lutheran Church was established as a place of worship and the teaching of God’s word to an eager and hardworking congregation.
Pastor Braschler was passionate about spreading the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus. In his one year tenure as Salem’s pastor, Braschler traveled on foot throughout the surrounding area, Brenham, Washington, and Independence to name a few, establishing no less than eight more Lutheran congregations.
Recognizing the blessings of Christian education, Salem established its day school in 1853 and is still serving students and families with an education firmly rooted in the truth of God’s word. The school opened with only a handful of children and has grown steadily expanding to include an Early Childhood Center and Concordia Lutheran High School, touching the lives of over a thousand students on a daily basis.
While Salem’s first pastor served only a year, the heart of the congregation to carry the gospel to others remained strong over the next decades. Salem families were involved in establishing at four other area congregations in Cypress, Neudorf, Klein and Tomball.
Over the next decades, the number of church families grew, requiring a new church building in 1890, later lost to a fire in 1963. That year also saw the tragic loss of Salem’s Pastor, Paul Eifert and His wife, Ruth in an auto accident.
Confident the Spirit of God was at work in the small country church of 100 or so, Salem replaced the burned church, increasing seating space to over 400, allowing for the explosive growth God promises when the message of grace and hope in Jesus is central to a congregation’s ministry.
Once again, on the Eve of Thanksgiving Day 1995, fire destroyed the sanctuary and church offices. Neither discouraged nor shaken, the family of believers at Salem, by now numbering almost 2500, constructed the current worship center on a site that had grown from four to over one hundred acres, provided by God through the generous hearts of its members, reflecting honor for the excellence of God in its beauty.
Visit Salem and you will experience more than a spirit of unity and friendliness. You will see and hear how we exist to serve as imperfect people, saved by God’s grace in Christ, willing to risk and step outside our reluctance and fear to make Jesus real ONE life at a time. While our campus provides rooms and space for much of our ministry to take place, our core service to God and people is reflected in the lives of our families.
Salem’s story is not limited to buildings on Lutheran Church Road. Its heart for mission, as passionate as Pastor Braschler’s in 1851, carries the Word of God beyond our walls. Each year Salem members and many others, carry the gospel message to local neighborhoods, the Houston metro area, Texas, Mexico, Honduras and Kenya. Through dental, medical, and vision clinics, family camps and Vacation Bible Schools, teams serve in and among the lives of thousands, presenting the message of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Salem’s Senior Pastor, Tim Niekerk arrived at Salem in 2006 to serve as Pastor of Assimilation. Pastor Niekerk’s energy and commitment to Salem’s mission were clear evidence of his ability to lead a new generation of Salem families in service to God and others. Pastor Niekerk was installed as Salem’s Senior Pastor in 2013, succeeding the Reverend Wayne Graumann upon His retirement after three decades of faithful ministry and robust growth.
Salem’s history is a tapestry still on the loom. The threads being woven are forming a work of art expressing themes of mission and hope, grace and peace, worship, sacrifice, innovation, impact, blessing and leadership. The hues and colors are rich and vibrant, inspiring all who participate to a grander vision for making Jesus real in the lives of people.