Christ Church announces plans to relocate Washington, Lee plaques

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The exterior of historic Episcopal church Christ Church (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)
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By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected]

Historic Alexandria Episcopal church Christ Church announced plans on Thursday to relocate two plaques inside their worship space honoring some of its most famous parishioners: George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The decision was voted on unanimously by Christ Church vestry, according to an email sent to members of the congregation.

The church announced in the email that they had made the decision to move the plaques no later than the summer of 2018. They said the decision was made after a parish-wide process consisting of “seven listening sessions, many emails, numerous phone calls, countless informal conversations and many one-on-one meetings and discussions with parishioners.” 

The email said, in the wake of renewed conversations about the legacy of Confederate leaders across the country, including the protests surrounding the Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, the church began to consider relocating the plaques. The email acknowledged the place that Washington and Lee occupied in the history of the country, as well as the history of the church.

The email said that, since both plaques were erected in 1870, they considered them together.

“The Vestry believes that the memorial plaques to George Washington and Robert E. Lee should be considered together,” the email read. “The plaques were erected at the same time. They visually balance each other, maintaining the symmetry of our sanctuary. The men they memorialize are giants in our nation and were members of this parish. Robert E. Lee has taken an outsized symbolism in the national conversation about race and inclusion.”

In the end, the email read, the church decided to relocate the plaques based on the changing understanding of the Confederacy in U.S. history, as well as in the interest of making church attendees feel welcome.

“Many in our congregation feel a strong need for the church to stand clearly on the side of ‘All are welcome – no exceptions,'” the email read, referencing a sign in front of Christ Church with the same message. 

The email, in addition, said the plaques are a “distraction in our worship space” and “create an obstacle to our identity as a welcoming church, and an impediment to our growth and to full community with our neighbors.” 

The church said that it would begin a parish-wide process for “discerning an appropriate new home for the memorial plaques.” The newsletter said the vestry will create three committees composed of parishioners to decide how to tell Christ Church’s story.

The first committee will decide options for relocating the plaques, the second will explore how to “better define” how Christ Church tells its story, including the story of famous parishioners including figures like Washington, Lee, David Griffith, Armistead Boothe, Sallie Stuart, Henry and Trudye Fowler, and the third will explore locations to “tell our story across the entire campus.” All three committees are slated to launch in January 2018, and the committee dealing with the relocation of plaques will recommend a course of action by April 15, 2018. 

The newsletter said the plaques wouldn’t be removed to a storage area, but, rather, to a “place of respectful prominent, where they will be fully visible to parishioners and tourists alike.” 

The work of committees, the email said, will result in a recommendation to the vestry for “changes to how we interpret our history across the campus, which could include a museum or interpretive center.” 

Th full text of the email can be read here.

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. George Washington, a devout Christian and hero of the American Revolution, admired by millions and after whom thousands of towns, cities, bridges, highways, etc, have been named — a “distraction to worship.” I dare say then you’ve done a lousy job preaching the Gospel to your congregation, if, in fact, you actually do that.

  2. I’ve been up in heaven, watching for years how the contemporary uber-liberal Episcopal clergy have bullied their way into leadership of America’s national church. Under their ‘leadership’ attendance and pledges have been reduced to the point of organizational failure. Their slanted ideological stance makes this an unwelcome place for families in most parts of the US. The ‘via media’ doctrine has been replaced by virtue signaling, social justice warrior, fashion statement liberal dogma. They more closely resemble the Taliban. Here is what needs to happen:

    * The entire Christ Church building needs to be designated as an historical landmark, interior and exterior. The clergy and vestry need to be served with a restraining order prohibiting ‘constructive possession’ of the building’s interior.

    * Steps must also be taken to preserve the Washington National Cathedral, again by restraining order, as the Episcopal political operatives have already begun the process of altering amenities in the form of stained glass portraits off RE Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

    The only reason we are talking about this now – This is all an outgrowth over the failure to re-install the corrupt Clinton’s in the White House. The clergy of Christ Church are not religious leaders. They are acting as political operatives. They need to be removed from the building in order to safeguard the historical integrity of this national treasure.

  3. How quick they forget! After the War Between the States, Christ Church was having a normal Sunday Service, when the Reverend called for Communion. Everyone stood up to go down to the Communion Rail, when they noticed a Black Man had gone to the rail and knelt down to take Communion. Well this had never happened before, everyone stood there looking at one another in Shock, not knowing what to do. Then a penniless old gray haired man went down to the Communion Rail and knelt down beside the Black Man. When everyone saw that the old man was Robert E. Lee they knew everything was going to be all right. PRAISE THE LOURD.