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IHS Press

Great Is Thy Faithfulness: A Bicentennial History of Meridian Street United Methodist Church

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Carrying a Bible, a hymn book, and a collection of religious tracts in his saddlebag, Reverend William Cravens arrived on horseback to the future state capital to minister to those of the Methodist faith. A small class of believers gathered in Isaac Wilson s cabin to greet this new circuit rider, who had been assigned by denominational officials to serve the Indianapolis District. The city s first church would be known by various names: Western Charge, Indianapolis Station, Wesley Chapel, and eventually Meridian Street Methodist Church to reflect its location on Indianapolis showcase avenue. It would occupy six different physical locations, stretching from the Indiana Statehouse to Monument Circle to 5500 North Meridian Street. Its purpose, however, would never waver. From its log cabin beginnings in 1821 to its prominence as the premiere metropolitan pulpit in the early twentieth century, to its position as a neighborhood anchor today, the church has played a significant role in the life of the city and the wider world. Its members led the Sunday School movement, crusaded against hard spirits, fought in wars for freedom, and served with distinction in political office. Its ministers developed reputations as powerful speakers who balanced care for individuals personal salvation with concern for the immediate needs of the least of their brethren: the poor, the homeless, and the hopeless. To mark the church s bicentennial, authors Andrea Neal and Jason Lantzer examine the buildings, the people, and the faith journey of the oldest church in Indianapolis. In doing so, they identify the defining moments of both Methodist and city history against a backdrop of national, social, and political change.

Hardcover. 147 pages. 2020, Indiana Historical Society Press. By Andrea Neal and Jason Lantzer.