The formation of the Greencastle Methodist Episcopal Church in 1924, known today as Gobin United Methodist Church, resolved a nearly 80 year division of two competing Methodist congregations in the Greencastle community. With a combined membership of 1,140 persons, along with the large Methodist-affiliated contingent in the DePauw student body, a newly-constructed larger space was desperately needed. Located at the corner of Locust and Simpson Streets, a cornerstone bearing the inscription “Jesus Christ the Chief Cornerstone” was laid in July, 1928. A year and a half later the building was complete.
Architect and Bloomington native Alfred Grindle designed the cathedral-like structure on a cruciform plan, patterned after the cathedrals of Europe and England. The exterior walls were constructed of orange-yellow brick from Brazil, IN and trimmed with Bedford limestone. Traditional Christian symbols may be seen throughout the space. Over the doorways rest the inscriptions “Abide with Me,” Come unto Me” and “Praise the Lord.” The doors were painted red, symbolic of the sanctuary doors of medieval churches providing safety for all those who enter. Above those doors reads 1928, the year construction began, along with the carving of St. Peter holding the Key to the Kingdom. Inside the narthex and over the main entrance leading out of the church is a stone panel bearing the inscription: “Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving.” The Kimball organ, gifted by Josiah K. Lilly, was reported to be the largest church organ in the state.
The new church was dedicated on Sunday, Dec. 1, 1929 and included a week-long celebration featuring the University Players performing a pageant titled “The Living Church,” a church banquet sponsored by the Women’s League and musical performances by DePauw Orchestra and School of Music faculty. Several former Greencastle pastors delivered messages to the congregation in person or by letter. As well, the presiding pastor wrote a tribute to the new church edifice which read:
Our dream of years is realized today in brick and stone,
In flying buttress and in massive tower;
The work of the builders is complete.
The task remains for us who worship here
To vest with hallowed memories these silent walls
Until their quiet loveliness shall be replete with power
To hush our troubled spirits into rest and wake
Our laggard sounds to sense that God is near.
Five years later the church was reconsecrated in honor of Hillary A. Gobin, former Depauw President. Since its inception, Gobin has hosted numerous lectures, including a speech given in 1960 by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the same pulpit that remains in the sanctuary today.
To hear Dr. King’s speech, click here.
*Information gathered from “A History of Greencastle Methodism” publication