Paine College Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel

Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel

The Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel, owned and operated by Paine College, was built in 1968. The basic design of the chapel's nave is cruciform; the chapel will accommodate approximately 1200 persons in air-conditioned comfort. The chapel usage ranges from paid events such as weddings, funerals and gospel concerts to religious campus events, coronations, assemblies and celebrations. The rear section of this building contains classrooms, sound-proof practice rooms, a music library, studios, robing rooms, and an auditorium that seats 200 persons.


The Chapel was named after Dr. John Wesley Gilbert (Dr. John Wesley Gilbert was the first Paine student, the first graduate, the first Negro member of this faculty. He was a classicist, a Biblical scholar and a great human being), Bishop Walter Russell Lambuth (Bishop Walter Russell Lambuth was a Physician as well as a theologian, one of the church's great missionary statesmen, and a trustee of this college).

Dr. E. Clayton Calhoun, the eighth President of Paine College (1956-1970). Dr. Clayton's address to the college on January 30, 1968 called "The Substance of Dreams": (describe in detail explanation of the structure of the Chapel). "The inspired American poet, Langston Hughes, has asked, "What happens to a dream deferred?" He gives some most perceptive answers. Tonight, at Paine College, we can give our answers in the perceptions which derive from a very deep gratitude.

We subscribe to the idealism that what we do here this night, and what we see here about us is not the ultimate fulfillment of our dream, that what happens here this night is a moment in a measureless continuum of impression and event reflected in countless lives. But let us not be so moved in our reasoning about the "stuff that dreams are made on" that we must pass this moment of entering this Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel, deferring enjoyment and gratitude until that continuum has run its course. Unless we sense in depth the meaning of this moment- the pas flooding it to fullness, the future bursting to be realized-and perceive it in gratitude that we are privileged to be matched with this moment's challenge and prospect, then the dream will be futilely deferred and the stuff of it will dry up on us "like a raisin in the sun."

To stay alive, a dream so long deferred has to mature. You have to give yourself reasons to sustain a dream, however once it may have been a flood of feeling or a stream of light. Mainly, you have to keep giving other people the reasons why the dream has a right to stay alive. It is in this latter reference we are gathered here tonight. We are they to whom the dream was given, in whom it still remains alive. And we are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses.

Dr. Calhoun gives a detailed description and purpose of each section of the chapel in his address to the college on January 30, 1968.

The Classical Form

Why classical style? Why perpetuate the Greece revival in a day of revolution, especially when both in Greece and in America, the periods represented, however rational, were marred by violence, brutality, slavery and vulgarity. This classic style combines the symmetry of exact science, of geometry, with the warm grace of the artist who knows instinctively that man is not so clear of vision that he can be completely trusted with straight lines.

The Transepts

The Ionic order comes from Asia Minor, from the East. It is adapted here from a time when churches adopted and adapted ancient shrines of many gods and used them to the glory of One. In this chapel it is further adapted. Transepts are not characteristic of this design. We have used them to draw the community together. Little more than half this congregation is seated in the nave. None is very far away.

The Crossing

The transepts, with nave and choir form a cross, with the altar at the crossing. The altar thus is in the midst of the gathered community. In symbol it is at the place of the body of Christ instead of at the place of inscription. As the church, being the body of Christ, must give up its life into its mission, so this College must always commit its life in fulfillment of its mission and risk its life for those purposes and those principles for which its exists. By this symbol we are reminded not only of what is done for us, but of what is required of us.

The Altar

Consider how many persons may kneel here together. Consider how many persons may kneel here together. Consider further the use of the chancel for concert and for chancel drama about the altar. Large as it is, the altar may remove for concert and the audience gathered closer if desired. Let this be clear. The altar will not be removed for such peculiar sentiments as strange distinctions between the sacred and the secular. What should not be done before the secular? What should not be done before the altar need not be done at all? The altar may be removed when practical considerations dictate. We suggest that such occasion will be infrequent. 

The Fine Arts Sections

The classrooms for music and other forms of art seem to have such natural relation to this Chapel as to need no explanation. Very practically it gives us for instruction use of space necessarily auxiliary to any chapel and makes full use of utilities necessary to such a large structure.

The Memorial

This is the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel. That name is full of meaning. The names are fitly joined together and fitly memorialized by this gift, this useful building on this campus. Each man was a real scholar. John Wesley Gilbert was the first Paine student, the first graduate, the first Negro member of this faculty. He was a classicist, a Biblical Scholar, great human being. Walter Russell Lambuth was a physician as well as a theologian, one of the church's great missionary statesmen. A trustee of this College, his name also is given to Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee. Both men were ordained ministers, churchmen, - Gilbert an editor, Lambuth a bishop. Together, in a venture to rival Stanley's quest for Livingston, they walked a thousand miles across the Congo to established, class of 1957 at Paine, Secretary General of the Protestant council of Churches in Congo, confidant, counselor, and sometimes stern teacher of leaders of both. Gilbert-Lambuth. Look where you will in Paine College. You will find a close and intimate linkage of two races, a real and continuous fellowship of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Church. In this chapel these meanings are fitly joined.

The Purpose

The Mission of Paine College is to provide a liberal arts education of the highest quality that emphasizes academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development. The Office of the Campus Pastor is here as a reflection of the church's concern for the whole person. We believe that a student should develop not only academically but socially and spiritually as well. The Campus Pastor and the entire college community aid students in making that journey from where they are as freshmen to what they are capable of becoming as a child of god. This is achieved through strong programs of academic excellence, competent, caring administrators, faculty, staff, and an appreciation of one's Christian heritage.

The Campus Pastor's Study

The Pastor's Study is a symbol of the calling of the Christian minister to be the shepherd of a flock of God. Here sermons are prepared to feed the congregation of God's Holy Word. Here the work of the church is planned so that the congregation may grow in grace and bear fruit in service, fellowship, teaching, and witnessing. Here you will always find a friend and counselor in time of need. He will not be surprised by your sins, nor will he judge you in them, but he always invites you to share with him the wisdom and love of God, the knowledge of forgiveness of sins, and the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.


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