Falls Church dedicates plaque to slaves who built it


Falls Church, the Episcopal church in the northern Virginia town of the same name, is an historic congregation, dating back to before the Revolutionary War. The building of Falls Church was erected in 1769, and although there are no definitive records of slaves doing the work, there is sufficient evidence to draw that conclusion. On February 11, the church dedicated a plaque to those laborers. It reads, “With gratitude and repentance, we honor the enslaved people whose skills and labor helped to build the Falls Church.” The plaque has been embedded in the brick walkway leading up to the church, next to a much older plaque honoring the architect, James Wren.

The plaque is the culmination of several years of effort and research on the part of Nikki Henderson, a parishioner at Falls Church. She and a team of volunteers dug into historical archives to study the construction of the church, and better understand who had done the work. They had the full support of Rev John Ohmer, the priest at Falls Church, who said, “racial reconciliation is a huge part of living out our baptismal covenant, and that’s what drives so much of our identity here.”

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