According to church records, 1852 is generally recognized as the year St. Paul's was established. This was the year the Diocese of Virginia divided the Botetourt Parish to create a new parish embracing all of Roanoke County to be known as the Salem Parish. However, as early as 1836 a loosely organized group of Episcopalians in Salem was attended by ministers from established nearby congregations. In 1867 The Rev. Edward Ingle began holding regular services for Episcopalians in Salem. He also had a congregation at St. John's in Roanoke. There was a single Vestry made up of members of both congregations. Services were held in homes and later in a rented room over a tinner's shop. In early 1867 the combined Vestry chose the name St. Paul's for the Salem congregation and in the fall of 1868 a small brick church was built on the site of the current Parish House. In 1883 the two parishes officially split and Goodwin remained at St. Paul's until 1885.
For the next 25 years St. Paul's steadily grew. Perhaps the most momentous event of the first half of the 20th century occurred on August 20, 1910 when the cornerstone was laid for the current church building. The new building was completed in 1911. The new building had a capacity of 250 and contained stunning stained glass windows. In 1936 the intricately carved Reredos was added. In 1926 work began on the Parish House which was built from a legacy left by Alice Chalmers. Perhaps the most dramatic event of that time was the addition of the steeple to the tower. In 1969 the Rev. Bob Copenhaver began his 28 year ministry. His tenure was one of dramatic growth. Two additions were built and several properties adjacent the church were acquired. A new organ was added, bells were installed in the steeple, St Anne's Day School was established, the new prayer book implemented, and the columbarium was added. Membership steadily grew. In 2005 the new ministry center was built and improvements made to the sanctuary and The Post House. St. Paul’s will begin a search process for our new Rector in early 2019. The Very Reverend Robert E. Brodie is serving as our Interim Rector.
Our Purpose: With God's help, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Salem, Virginia, will proclaim, by word and example, the good news of God in Christ. We will seek and serve Christ in all persons by maintaining our fitness for ministry, resisting the power of evil, serving those in need, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of every human being.