Our History


Our History

                 The original Salem Church was founded in a Brush Arbor with a Sawdust Floor in late 1865.  The original pastor was

   Rev. Africa Bailey, a Sergeant in the Union Army during the Civil War.  By 1867, Salem's congregation had grown to

  242   members and they were worshiping in a solid frame building at the corner of Carolina Street and Tennessee.

             Gilfield Baptist Church was split from Salem Baptist in 1883, when it was organized by Dr. J. Jay, and moved to 32

 West Virginia Avenue.  A brick Church was constructed under the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Ribbons and the indebtedness

 was liquidated under the pastorate of Rev. R. E. Harshaw.  Other pastors of Salem included Reverends C. H. Hayes,

 Heard, J. M Booker, Echols, Williams Winston, and R. B. Roberts.  Under Rev. Robert's leadership, Salem Baptist

 moved to what is now Crump Blvd (then Iowa) and Florida in 1927 and built a two story beautiful structure, but the upper

 floor was not completed at this time.  Rev. W. L. Varnado became pastor after the death of Rev. Roberts in 1936.

            Rev. A. L. McCargo, Became pastor of the Old Gilfield Baptist church in 1934 and in 1940 he merged the

   congregations of these two churches into one that became known as Salem Gilfield Baptist Church.  Under Rev.

   McCargo's leadership, the upper structure of the church was completed and the entire debt on the Church paid off.  He

  served as pastor until 1970 and was Pastor Emeritus at his death in June, 1975.

           Rev. L. A. Wakefield came to Salem Gilfield as Rev. McCargo's assistant in 1966.  He was elected pastor May 30,

  1971.  In January, he initiated a building fund as a means of satisfying members desire for a new Church.  With Rev.

  Wakefield's divinely inspired leadership and a membership effort directed by God's Holy Spirit, services were held in a

  new edifice at 3176 Kimball Avenue, January18, 1976.  Rev. Wakefield's pastorate ended in December, 1980. 

           Rev.  Charles H. Ryans, Sr., was elected pastor of Salem Gilfield, April 21, 1981.  He was formally installed June 14,

  1981 with many of Memphis' most outstanding Baptist Ministers participating.  Rev. Ryans' tenure was truly a pastorate

  of service.  His sermons were straight from God's word without external frills.  Within the first few weeks after his

  election, he had visited every member on the sick list and all the aged members who were confined.  He established the

  Worker's Council to provide a Bible study class for all teachers and officials of the Sunday School, the Baptist Training

  Union and other auxiliaries of the Church, and a training Class for Young Associate Deacons which teaches the great

  responsibilities of Deaconship before they are installed and confirmed.  He established a "Tape Ministry"  for the sick

  and shut-in, and aged members of the Church, so they can hear the Sermons, music, and all other phases of the

  worship services.  Rev. Charles H. Ryans' preaching brought the membership together and because he was preaching

  only " What thus saith The Lord."  Salem Gilfield's members were more worshipful, more dedicated and more committed

  to the cause of Christ.

          On August 31. 1986, the debt on the property at 3176 Kimball was retired, a glorious "Praise to Gods Service" was

  held during the Mortgage Burning Ceremony. 

          Rev. Charles H. Ryans. Sr., retired as the pastor of Salem Gilfield on December 31, 1996.

          Rev. Angelo McBride was elected pastor of Salem Gilfield on March 9, 1997.  He began his pastorate by becoming a

  part of, and heartily supporting, all established ministries and organizations of the church and by making himself

  available to each member. 

          Rev. McBride served as pastor until October 25, 2010.

          Rev. Stanford L. Hunt came to serve as worship leader on February 13, 2011. He was elected pastor of Salem Gilfield

  on Saturday, February 25, 2012. He preached his first pastoral sermon on February 26, 2012. His installation services

  were held on May 6 2012.

                                                                             ALL GLORY and PRAISE TO 'GOD' Almighty..... he has led us 150 YEARS

Africa Bailey, Founder


25 Years A Building

-----Church Is Finished ----

Tomorrow - 25 years after its construction was started -- the auditorium of Gilfield Baptist Church (negro) at Florida and Iowa will be ready for its first use by the congregation.

    It was a quarter of a century ago that Rev. R. B. Roberts, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, started the church building, a three-story structure with an auditorium to seat 2300. When he died 19 years later, in 1936, only the frame had been erected.  Not until November, 1940, when Gilfield and Salem Baptist Churches merged, was construction speeded to the point of completing the auditorium


     Most of the work is over now, Rev. A. L. McCargo, the pastor, estimates,  Pillars, windows and roof are in place for the Sunday services, which mark the passage of 75 years since the congregations of Gilfield and Salem Baptist Churches began as the same church. The merger in 1940 marked their reunion after a 60-yer separation

The Commercial Appeal

July 18, 1942