Pastor Harold Salem, longtime Christian Worship Hour host, dies at 99, but ministry will continue


ABERDEEN, SD — A funeral will take place on Wednesday, December 23 for the longtime pastor who preached on more than 100 local and world television stations each Sunday morning.

The funeral of Pastor Harold Salem will be held at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Aberdeen, SD, and will be broadcast live on the Christian Worship Hour webpage ( and his 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 president Bill Edwards said it won’t be the end of the ministry as they plan to continue showing sermons previously recorded by Salem for as long as people want.

“A lot of viewers are distraught, especially in the area,” Edwards said. “But we want people to celebrate the pastor’s life. 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 studios in Aberdeen.

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

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

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

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

In 2010 he resigned from the church in Aberdeen to engage full-time in the Christian Worship Hour, which he originally founded in 1979 and started on a single television 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 a 2018 interview with Forum News Service that he would retire “three days before his funeral.”

Edwards said he was pretty close to that number when he checked into the hospital on Dec. 3, spoke to his staff about plans on Dec. 8, and was feeling pretty good. 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 some time to prepare.”

The hour-long weekly show, which simply includes a Salem sermon and some worship songs, had been taped every other Saturday morning at Aberdeen’s KABY-TV station, where the stripped-down background is .

Edwards said they taped two programs at once about six weeks in advance. Salem also did two half-hour shows on other Saturdays that 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% of it, as he put it – through a 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 2005.


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