… Confederate imagery filled the sanctuary at St. Paul’s. Whether by design or through blindness of deeper meanings, St. Paul’s helped to perpetuate a myth. Its congregations and priests became known for progressive attitudes and actions, but its walls displayed protections of a hateful heritage.
St. Paul’s has decided to liberate itself. Various items with Confederate connotations will disappear. Some will go to historic displays, their proper place. Likenesses of the Confederate flag do not belong in a church for all people. Prayer cushions with Confederate references insult the memories of those held in bondage. They border on blasphemy. St. Paul’s is not trying to erase history. Indeed, it recognizes history’s presence, its persistent power to enthrall. The church does not intend to forget. Those who refuse to recognize the pain inflicted by gestures celebrating the Confederacy would purge history from the collective consciousness and the collective conscience. In her story about Confederate symbols at St. Paul’s, The Times-Dispatch’s Laura Kebede describes a process [of conversation] that was serious and measured. Participants listened for the Holy Spirit. They acted when they heard. Our confidence in rector Wallace Adams-Riley is absolute.
When the church announced it would address its Confederate connections, observers trusted it to do the right thing in the right way. Its will has been done. St. Paul’s bears the name of Christianity’s most consequential convert. Truly, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond sees. My Lord, what a morning!