An Idaho church has decided to remove Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a stained glass window in its sanctuary that also features George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
First United Methodist Church in Boise, Idaho, also known as the “Cathedral of the Rockies,” took down the image of Lee during a deconsecration ceremony, after having originally covered the image with a black banner that read, “We repent.”
The cost of the new stained-glass window was $25,591. The church felt that the price was well worth it because they did not want to show support for the Confederacy.
The leadership of the Cathedral of the Rockies went on to say that the decision was made after “considerable prayer and deliberation”. They said the image of Lee was “divisive and hurtful” to have displayed.
“Our pastors and staff have spoken and speak against systemic racism, study to understand, and work with leaders of color to listen and learn.”
“We believe this section of our window to be inconsistent with our current mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” they continued.
The church board continued to say that the image hindered its true mission to spread the word of Christ and transform the world for Him.
“Further, such display is a barrier to our important work resisting evil, injustice, and oppression. Symbols of white supremacy do not belong in our sacred space.”
While some may be against their decision, the church board believes they are doing what is right. They said they hoped “what unites us in Christ is greater than our differences.”
The Cathedral said that the window was first created to help welcome southerners who moved into the area.
“The only documentation we have from the committee that chose this in around 1958,” explained Rev. Duane Anders, “said that it was a nod to inclusion for the southerners who had moved to Boise.”
Bishop Kelly was chosen among fifty possible candidates for the stained glass window. Because of her influence, she was a respected person in the Christian church.
“As we started working through the names, one just kept rising to the top because of our connection to the person and their connection to Boise,” Anders said. “And that’s Bishop Leontine Kelly.”
The new window was created by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, which is based in Minnesota. The church used its endowment fund to pay for the expensive new window that replaced the image of Robert E. Lee.
The congregation has a “Black Lives Matter” banner outside the sanctuary that reads “We repent for our participation in white supremacy.”
It plans to hold a “worship service of repentance” on June 21 and invites the community to join in the staff-led small group studying the book “White Fragility.”
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