“Unsafe” Church Removes Plaques; Now Church Is Safe

Oct 28, 2017

An Episcopal church in Alexandria, Virginia has voted to remove plaques memorializing two notable past individuals, namely George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The first president and the confederate general were both at one time members of the church. The unanimous decision is designed to make the church more welcoming. In a letter addressed to members, the vestry announced, “The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.” The letter explained that in today’s era, the issue of slavery is understood differently than it was understood at the time of the country’s founding. Because of that, change in understanding, the church cannot give the proper context and explanation. “Because the sanctuary is a worship space, not a museum, there is no appropriate way to inform visitors about the history of the plaques or to provide additional context except for the in-person tours provided by our docents.”