“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them” (Matthew 18:20). Believing this promise of our Lord, twenty-nine Christians gathered in his name in 1831 to become the first members of Salem Presbyterian Church (SPC). In 1852, a new sanctuary was dedicated, and Christians have worshiped in it ever since. Indeed, worship is the heart of our faith, knowing that to “gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer” (Protestant Reformer Martin Luther).
From day one, SPC has also been committed to Bible study, spiritual formation, and exploring our faith through Christian education and fellowship. The first Sunday School in Salem, which met in the Methodist Church because it was the only church building in Salem at the time, included Presbyterians. Later, SPC established its own “Sabbath School” (Sunday School) and over the years has expanded its education space. Today, classes, small groups, and fellowship opportunities for all ages and stages of life and faith meet on Sundays and throughout the week, at the church, in people’s homes, and elsewhere.
Christians are called to love God and neighbor, and this Greatest Commandment of our Lord has fueled SPC’s mission and outreach since its founding. An 1841 Session (the governing body of Presbyterian churches) resolution declares SPC’s commitment to helping spread the Gospel so others can know God’s love and grace. That commitment is apparent in churches SPC’s planted, such as First Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Roanoke and New Life Presbyterian Church in Salem. It’s also evident in our work with local organizations such as Family Promise of Greater Roanoke (its Day Center is housed in SPC’s Marshall House), the Salem-Roanoke County Food Pantry, and the Roanoke Rescue Mission.
Several of SPC’s current outreach endeavors are partnerships with other entities, including the Salem Fresh Ideas volunteer garden (on SCP-owned land in partnership with the City of Salem), CEDEPCA (a Christian organization in Guatemala), and Serving His Children (a Christian ministry that fights malnutrition in Uganda). In addition, since 1991 SPC has hosted our Community Thanksgiving Dinner (for all and especially those in need or who would be alone on Thanksgiving), and we’ve held several Community Service Blitzes the past few years.
That first congregation of twenty-nine members in 1831 is now an active and faithful congregation of about five hundred. Like our SPC forebears in the faith, we’re committed to worshiping the Lord, growing in faith and fellowship, and loving and serving people in Jesus’ name—both near and far.
Our current pastor, the Rev. Dr. Will Robinson (pictured at right with his wife Kate), was called to SPC in 2009, coming to us from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies in 2015. Before his call to graduate studies at Union, Will served in Presbyterian churches in Indianapolis and Tulsa.
A window into SPC
Fellowship with those wishing to grow in Christian faith and to serve the Lord
Intergenerational mission trips to serve those in need
Youth regularly involved in local “mini missions”
Financial and volunteer support to area organizations such as Area Churches Together (ACT), Presbyterian Community Center, West End Center, and Ms. Dorsey’s Clothes Closet
Wrapping our arms around the Roanoke Valley through efforts such as Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, Roanoke Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, and ministering to students at Roanoke College
Helping feed our community by providing donations to the Salem-Roanoke County Food Pantry, growing produce for those in need in the Salem Fresh Ideas volunteer garden, and hosting our annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner