On Sunday, January 13, 1985, 193 people gathered at the Shiloh Baptist Church – 4840 South Dorchester. Under the direction of Rev. Gordon A. Humphrey, the group’s prayerful purpose was the organization of a new church family. After the official proceedings, the group elected Rev. James T. Meeks to serve as pastor. Rev. Meeks’ first official act was to give the new church a name. He chose Salem, which means peace, because Rev. Meeks’ heartfelt desire was for this new church to represent and preach peace to all people.

The Salem Baptist Church of Chicago held its first worship service on January 20, 1985 at 8201 South Jeffrey Boulevard. During their five-year period at this location, the church experienced steady growth. Because of Salem’s emphasis on teaching biblical principles and bringing spiritual truths to everyday reality with a daring, simple clarity, almost 1,000 members joined.

In July 1990, Salem Baptist Church purchased properties located at 11800 South Indiana, which included a church auditorium, school, parsonage and convent.

In 2005, Salem moved to the House of Hope, a 10,000 seat arena built the same year. Salem currently  has over 20,000 members.