Idaho Church to Remove Robert E. Lee From Stained Glass Window

UM News Service

A church in Idaho announced it would be removing Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a stained glass window in its sanctuary. The artwork also features George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

A ‘Divisive and Hurtful’ Image

Pastors and staff at the Cathedral of the Rockies, a large United Methodist Church in Boise, have decided to make some modifications within its church walls. Therefore, leadership has determined that a stained glass window bearing the image of General Lee is “divisive and hurtful” and must be removed.

“After considerable prayer and deliberation, your Cathedral of the Rockies Church Board has voted to immediately modify the window… We believe this section of our window to be inconsistent with our current mission…,” the church wrote in a statement.

“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.”

Furthermore, the church says the Gospel of Jesus Christ compels them “to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

Replaced With Person of Color

Rev. Duane Anders told The Christian Post that the stained glass window was first crafted to welcome Southerners to their congregation.

“The only documentation we have from the committee that chose this in around 1958,” Anders explained. “It said that it was a nod to inclusion for the southerners who had moved to Boise.”

In addition, Anders also said there was an oral tradition behind the stand glass windows’ creation. It was a way to say “in Christ we reconcile,” he said. There is no written documentation verifying this reason, however.

The plan is to replace the image of General Lee with a person of color. However, the exact African-American representative has yet to be determined. Suggested names include Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Leontine T.C. Kelly — the first African-American female bishop in the UMC.

The stained glass company responsible for removing the image will begin work in the next couple of weeks. The project will be completed in approximately six weeks.

Reminded of ‘White Privilege’

In addition to fighting against racial inequality, the board also recognized its “white privilege.” In fact, they believe the recent deaths of African-Americans have reminded them of this privilege.

“The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor brought long-overdue urgency to our discernment process,” the board said. “We have waited too long.”

“Admittedly, we have spent too long being indifferent, and comfortable in privilege. We have concluded that this portion of our right transept window tells an incomplete, misleading, and racist account. We commit to finding ways to offer a richer, more balanced expression of our history,” the statement added.