Salter Chapel began as a family church on May 10, 1888, on the southwest corner of northwest 46th street and Grape Vine Avenue, presently known as 27th Avenue. Seeking to establish a church for his family, neighbors, and friends, Reverend Samuel Wilson organized Busch Harbor African Methodist Episcopal Church; a place where they could meet for worship.
About 1908 or 1909 Reverend Wilson submitted the church to the Annual Conference and received its first pastoral appointment. The name of the church was changed to Salter Chapel A.M.E. Church in honor of the late Bishop Moses B. Salter, Bishop of the Eleventh Episcopal District from 1908-1912.
In 1921 Reverend Wilson decided to divide the land on Grape Vine Avenue among his children. The 35x40 lot near northwest 48th Street was given to the church with entrance on Grapevine Avenue. The first modern church building was erected on this lot July 02, 1923. The membership included Reverend Samuel Wilson, his wife, Laura Wilson, Julius Middleton, Maggie Middleton and Simon Mullins.
During the Annual Conference in 1929 Rev. H. W. Johnson was the first minister, other than Reverend Wilson, appointed as pastor of Salter Chapel. Some who were assigned to serve after Rev. Johnson’s years of service included, Rev. Spells, L.R. Brown, H.R. Johnson and others.
As new residents moved into the Brownsville community the church membership increased. The new worshipers included former members of Bethel and St. Paul AME Churches from Overtown and individuals from out-of-state.
When in 1954 Rev. J.S. Black became the minister of Salter Chapel a building program was instituted. The original frame building was demolished and the lower auditorium of the present structure was constructed. Also under his leadership the church played a major role in the candidacy of Rev. William Franklin Ball, Sr. when he ran for Bishop of the A.M.E. Church.
At the 1957 General conference in Miami Florida, Rev. William Franklin Ball, Sr. was elected the 77thBishop of the A.M.E. Church. At the close of the conference Bishop Ball promised Rev. Blake he would not forget the generosity and support of Salter Chapel under his leadership that made it possible for him to become a Bishop of the A.M.E. Church.
During the General Conference in 1960, Bishop W.F. Ball, Sr. was assigned the Episcopal leader of the Eleventh Episcopal District (Florida).
The Annual Conference in 1961, under the leadership of Bishop William F. Ball, Sr., approved the addition of a fifth Presiding Elder District in the South Florida Conference. Rev. J.B. Blake of Hurst Chapel AME Church, Perrine, Fl., was assigned Presiding Elder. Salter Chapel was removed from the Miami District and became the lead church of the newly organized West Miami District of the South Florida Conference. It included all churches located in the Glades area with Salter and Mt. Zion (Opa-Locka), St. Stephen (Carol City) New Bethel (Hialeah) and Christina Hill (Miami) were added. Salter Chapel would serve as leader of the district until 1985 when Mt. Hermon became leader. In 1989, under the leadership of Bishop Philip R. Cousin, the annual conference dismantled the West Miami District and Salter Chapel returned to the Miami District.
Church growth and improvements were made under the leadership of the following ministers:
Rev. Spell to Rev. Brown – As individuals settled in the Brownsville community church membership grew to almost standing room every Sunday.
Rev. J.S. Blake – The original building was demolished and the lower auditorium was erected. (Rev. T.C. Kelley, pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Coconut Grove, employed as builder)
Rev. J.H. Benson – The upper auditorium was added, the Central Budged Fund was instituted, the parsonage was condemned and, housing expense was provided for the pastor.
Rev. H.M. Salmon – Liquidated the mortgage.
Rev. JohnA. Mainer – Renovated restrooms, erected the pastor’s study, installed new church furniture, paneling and picture window, purchased property adjacent the church, full-time pastor’s salary instituted in (1980).
Rev. E.J. Parker – secured church incorporation papers, Reopened Salter Little Lamb Kindergarten, secured plans for a new church building, purchased lot adjoining church property.
Rev. Melvin Kennerley – installed central air-conditioning in the building and installed flooring downstairs, he was instrumental in the burning of the mortgage on June 9, 2001.
Rev. Philip R. Johns – Installed the sound system and microphones in the choir stand, ceiling fans in the sanctuary, acquired an organ and keyboard for the choir, installed the double entrance doors and planted palms for the beautification of the grounds. The upstairs office was established under the leadership of Rev. Johns.
Rev. Jackson – received an appointment to Salter Chapel but never assumed the pulpit.
Rev. Lassiter – Removed the paneling from the walls, painted and plastered the sanctuary, installed a new doors (office and exit).
Rev. Mildred Roscoe – the first female pastor of Salter Chapel and carried out the wishes of the members to establish a scholarship fund. She has been charged with the remodeling of the sanctuary and bringing the building up to code.