A Historical Sketch of Greenstone United Methodist Church
The Greenstone Church was built by industrialist George Pullman in his “company town” of Pullman in 1882. Designed by Solon Beman, features a unique facade of green stone quarried in Pennsylvania. The original cost of the building was $57,000, and seats 600. With the exception of the chancel arrangements, the sanctuary has remained unchanged since the 1880s. The cherry wood that comprises the altar and pews is original, as is the manual- tracker pipe organ. The organ was built in 1882 by the distinguished firm of Steere & Turner as their Opus #170. It was originally powered by a hand bellows, then by a water-powered motor and now by an electric blower. The organ is otherwise in original condition and has had little repair over the last 100+ years, showing its high quality of materials and work. It is one of the few manual tracker organs remaining in the United States. Greenstone Church was first established as a Unitarian Church “for all to unite in a union body and get a broad-minded evangelical clergyman,” it was quickly realized that each denomination wanted to worship in their own religion and their own language with their own pastors. The church building sat empty due to the high monthly rent while small religious societies met in rooms rented at the Market Hall, the Arcade, or the Casino buildings. The rent of $300 per month for the church and $65 for the parsonage to the south end of the building, were deemed excessive. The Presbyterians were the first tenants of the church, having leased the building by 1887. Following a much-publicized antitrust controversy, Pullman was forced to sell off most of the town, beginning in 1898, the year following Pullman’s death. The church building was sold in 1907 to the Methodists.
The ideal of a Methodist congregation in the Pullman community dates back to 1890’s, when a small band of Christians under the Wesleyan tradition began to Worship.
As historical records of the Pullman Company, and town reflected above, that while many denominations established themselves in Pullman, the Pullman Methodist Episcopal (ME) began December 11th, 1892,
Worshiping first in what was called “Casino Hall”. The Pullman ME Church played a role in the great Pullman strike of 1894, as its pastor Rev. John Carwardin, who emerged as one of the front line advocates of the workers’ cause in the Pullman strike. The data he collected and his writings provided documentation for the legal consideration that led to the State Supreme Court ruling in 1896 that ordered the Pullman Company to divest itself of the all property not related to its manufacturing.
The congregation went on as a pillar in the community, through its ups and down, and its members held on to their faith through mission and ministry. In 1939 the Methodist Episcopal Church North & South and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to become the Methodist Church, and in 1968 the church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to become the United Methodist Church (UMC) The Pullman church became Pullman United Methodist Church of the Northern Illinois Conference in 1968. In the mid 1990’s with the closing of Washington Heights UMC, a number of those members came and joined Pullman UMC. In 2002 there was another merger, as the United Meth
odist congregations of: Fellowship (West Pullman) UMC, established in 1889, Pullman UMC, and South Dearing UMC, established in 1875, merged to become the
Greenstone United Methodist Church. Under our current pastor, Pastor Luther C. Mason, reminds the congregation that “we are a church filled with hope and life”. In February 2015 President Barack Obama named the Historic Pullman Community, “America’s Newest National Monuments”, and the Greenstone UMC family is excited to be part of this dubious honor as we faithfully remain a pillar in the Pullman community, celebrating 123 years of mission and ministry as “A Historic Church In A Historic Community, Opening Our Doors & Reaching Out To Our Community & Neighbors, Spreading a real ‘Love Revolution!’”