On November 20, 2016 Salem Lutheran Church in Brenham, Texas, founded in 1856, celebrated 160 years. 

Here is some history of Salem, Brenham

Protestant churches were forbidden in Texas until 1836. In 1824, when Mexico won its independence from Spain, immigration became legal, but still only Roman Catholic Churches were permitted. Lutherans gathered in homes. 

With immigration open, Germans began to flow into Texas. This increased once Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and became a country, The Republic of Texas, with President Sam Houston at the helm. 

In 1842, the Adelsverein (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants) was formed, and by 1843 they had 4,428 acres of land in Fayette County where they intended to establish a “New Germany” in Texas. 

In 1844 Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels visited the site. He was so offended by the practice of slavery, he immediately ordered the plantation sold. 

In March 2, 1845, Texas became the 28th state of the U.S., and SAM Houston became its first senator. By this time immigrants were plentiful and churches were forming. The challenge was providing leadership. A Pastor l. C. Ervendberg had arrived in 1939 from Illinois. He served various worshipping communities in Houston, Industry, Cat Spring, LaGrange, Columbus, New Braunfels and others. 

In 1850 Pastor G. F. Guebner arrived from South Carolina. He organized a congregation in Galveston but served people as far as Fayette County. That same year Pastor Caspar Braun arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A Pastor J. Heinrich Braschler served in Spring Branch (now NW Houston). Having received letters asking for pastors, the St. Chrischona School in Basel Switzerland sent two more pastors, Theobald Klein and Christoph Adam Sager. 

Again in 1851, the St. Chrischona School sent pastors, their entire graduating class of six. Among them was Johann George Ebener. Ebinger sailed on the Franziska from Bremen on September 2, and arrived in Galveston on November 5, 1851, at a time when immigration was completely open, except for the occasional mobs of thugs who would scare away whoever they thought were the wrong kind of people. 

Ebinger was present for the organization of the Texas Synod on November 10, 1851, Martin Luther’s birthday. The day after the synod assembly, Ebinger headed to Rose Hill, now Tomball, Texas. 

On December 24, 1954, Pastor Ebinger conducted the first Lutheran worship service in Washington County. Then, on July 5, 1955, Eben Ezer, the first Lutheran Church in Brenham was organized in the Berlin community. 

A conflict arose between Pastor Ebinger and the leaders at Eben Ezer in 1956. So Pastor Ebinger and a few members went three miles south to “the prairie,” where they formed Salem Lutheran Church. On November 22, 1856, the cornerstone was laid for Salem’s first building, pictured here. 

Salem Brenham in 1856

Today, Salem is served by Pastor Charles Parnell, shown here on his motorcycle, and Pastor Rich Nelson, an Episcopal priest, and decade-long friend of this synod. 

Salem Brenham Pastors

Johann George Ebinger (1856 – 1860)

Christian Geiger (1860 – 1866)

J.G. Lieb (1867 – 1882)

R. Wasser (1883 – 1884)

F. Jesse (1884 – 1890)

S. Traubel (1891 – 1894)

W. Bunge (1894 – 1896)

L. Weinrich (1897 – 1898)

Johannes Mgebroff (1898 – 1920)

William Utesch (1920 – 1940)

A.J. Mohr (1940 – 1947)

W.C. Poehlmann (1947 – 1953)

O.K. Oelke (1954 – 1964)

F.T. Sager (1964 – 1977)

William (Bill) Derrick (1978 – 2005)

   Melanie Ehler (1988 – 1990)

   Gary Veit (1991 – 1995)

   Charles Treptow (1997 – 2002)

   Michael Widner (2002 – 2004)

Charles Parnell (2005-present)

   Lydia Paterson (2006-2008?)

   Toby Burk (2009?-2015?)

   Rich Nelson (2016-present)