The town of Ponca is the fourth oldest town in Nebraska. It was established in 1856. Records show that Salem Lutheran Church in Ponca held its first services in 1857. The first services were held in a 30' x 40' cottonwood building constructed with lumber sawed in South Dakota, ferried across the Missouri River, and hauled by oxen teams to Ponca. Early services were conducted in both English and German.
In 1885, a tornado struck Ponca. It severely damaged the Lutheran Church making it necessary to rebuild. In 1892, a beautiful new Lutheran Church was completed. It was heralded as one of the finest in the state of Nebraska for nearly 90 years.
In 1978, a renovation committee was appointed to determine the feasibility of renovating the deteriorating building. The decision to construct a new church building on the present site was made on July 15, 1979. It was truly an emotional time at Salem at the task of dismantling the beautiful old church began on August 5, 1981. Ground was broken for a new church on August 23, 1981 and construction began. During the time of construction, church services were held at St. Joseph Catholic Church. This gesture was a true example of the harmony between the churches in Ponca. The current church was completed in July of 1982. In 1992, the congregation voted to build a new parsonage. This was completed in 1994. In 1995, a parcel of ground along Highway 12 a couple miles east of Ponca was donated to Salem for the sole purpose of establishing a church cemetery.
The early church was well-established in the community by our forefathers. The dedication and preservation of Salem is carried on by the current members.