Long-time Christian Worship Hour host Pastor Harold Salem dies at 99, but ministry will continue

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Pastor Harold Salem’s funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Aberdeen, SD, and streamed live on the Christian Worship Hour webpage (www.christianworshiphour.com) and its Facebook page.

He died on Friday December 18 in Aberdeen at the age of 99 surrounded by his family.

Despite Salem’s passing, Christian Worship Hour chairman Bill Edwards has said it will not be the end of the ministry as they plan to continue showing previously recorded sermons by Salem for as long as people want.

“A lot of viewers are clueless, especially in the area,” Edwards said. “But we want people to celebrate the life of a pastor. I don’t think you could have scripted a better life for a man.”

Broadcast on 13 television stations across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, the Christian Worship Hour service as well as a half-hour show were produced from Aberdeen Studios.

Salem was known for his selfless wit, kind words, sense of humor, impeccable memory, quick wit, and boundless energy.

“The pastor had that magnetism in him. Everyone loved him and he loved everyone,” Edwards said. “He had such a simple and understandable way of presenting the gospel. He often described himself as a simple farm boy. But his mind was amazing, for he could remember names, faces, and people.”

Salem joined the ministry at the age of 23 at First Baptist Church in Belle Fourche, SD, in the Black Hills, his home church, where he served for approximately 13 years.

He then moved to Aberdeen, where he preached for 52 years as a pastor at the First Baptist Church from 1958.

In 2010 he resigned from Aberdeen Church to devote himself full time to Christian Worship Hour, which he originally founded in 1979 and started on one TV channel, KABY-TV in Aberdeen. .

Salem was the author of three books and the subject of a documentary, “Heart of a Shepherd,” produced in 2018 to document his life.

He said in an interview with Forum News Service in 2018 that he would retire “three days before his funeral”.

Edwards said he was pretty close to that number when he entered hospital on December 3, spoke to his staff about his plans on December 8 and felt pretty well. He died 10 days later.

The pastor joked in the interview that he wanted to preach up to three days before his funeral “to give people a little time to prepare.”

The hour-long weekly program, which consists of just a sermon from Salem and a few songs of worship, had been recorded every alternate Saturday morning at KABY-TV station in Aberdeen, where the stripped back background is located.

Edwards said they recorded two shows at a time about six weeks in advance. Salem also does two half-hour shows on the other Saturdays other TV and radio stations want.

The program reaches homes around the world via television, radio and the Internet. Additionally, Salem reaches remote parts of the world – or 90%, as he said – thanks to shortwave radio that allows people in those areas to hear his sermons.

Salem is survived by two daughters, two sons, three brothers and a sister. He has 12 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Beulah, who died on Christmas Eve in 2005.


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