Since the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E., several Episcopal churches have made national news over their internal struggle with the presence of Confederate symbols on church property. The latest (perhaps?), Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, is not in a former slave state. Slavery was abolished in Ohio’s original 1802 constitution.
The AP reports,
Many churches date back to Civil War times and beyond and found themselves on the side of the pro-slavery South when their sons marched off to war. The war ended, as did slavery — but the racism did not.
Just steps away from the Statehouse [in Columbia, SC], the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is wrestling with Confederate ghosts. The South’s Gen. Wade Hampton and its poet laureate, Henry Timrod, are buried on the parish’s grounds. A plaque in its sanctuary honors members who died in the Civil War. However, the church doesn’t allow the display of Confederate flags, and the Very Rev. Dean Timothy Jones said Confederate flags recently placed on soldiers’ graves were removed.
“I care deeply about how historical symbols can create hurt and communicate a message of discrimination,” Jones said. “We believe in redressing the terrible wrongs of slavery and affirming the dignity of every human being.”
The AP mentions other Episcopal churches who have struggled with Confederate symbols or icons: Washington National Cathedral, St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond, VA, R. E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, VA and Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati.
Episcopal News Service reported last week:
The Episcopal cathedral in Cincinnati plans to launch a discernment process as it considers removing memorials to Confederate figures after [Dean Gail Greenwell] called for their removal in a sermon last month.
“The church itself has been complicit in enshrining systems and people who contributed to white supremacy, and they are here in the very corners of this cathedral,” Greenwell said.
The cathedral’s stained-glass window, a gift from a Lee descendant, shows Lee receiving a blessing from Virginia Bishop William Meade. Greenwell also pointed to the cathedral’s plaque honoring Leonidas Polk, who was consecrated in 1838 in Cincinnati and served as the missionary bishop of the Southwest.
Polk, one of the founders of Sewanee: The University of the South, was bishop of Louisiana when he served as a Confederate general. He was known to wear his Episcopal vestments over his military uniform, “a thoroughly offensive merge of his professed faith and his fervor to see the institution of slavery endure,” Greenwell said.
Is your church struggling with Confederate symbols? Let us know.
Image: Leonidas Polk, Sewanee’s Fighting Bishop