The Salem Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1883. This area, including portions of Kearney, Phelps, and Harlan counties, once had the largest number of Swedish immigrants in rural Nebraska.
The original sod church was built in 1884. The present 1898 building shows the transition from Sweden to America both through its architecture and through the congregation's choice of denomination. The Carpenter Gothic building has an Akron-style floor plan. In addition to the sanctuary, it has a church parlor for social events and Sunday School classes.
The Salem congregation felt the Lutheran Augustana Synod was too much like the state church in Sweden, so they chose to organize as Methodists instead. Some founding members began as members of Bethany Lutheran Church, located southeast of Axtell, and of Fridhem Lutheran Church, originally located east of Funk. Rather than sharing a pastor, the congregation wanted their own minister. Their first pastor was Carl Charnquist, a Swedish Methodist circuit-riding minister recruited from Texas. The Salem Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.