Hidden Confederate memorials up for debate at local church

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The debate over Confederate imagery and memorials still rages on tonight, even in church.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church not only serves as a house of worship, but also a historical stop for visitors. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, both prominent images of the civil war, were also members of St. Paul’s during that time.

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The two Confederate figures also have memorials through out the sanctuary, including a stained glass window portraying Robert E. Lee as Moses freeing the Israelites, and another tribute to Jefferson Davis, depicted as St. Paul.

Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley serves as the rector for St. Paul’s.

“We have folks coming through really on a daily basis interested in that history,” he explained.

However, in the weeks following the Emmanuel A.M.E. church slaying in Charleston, S.C.

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Adams-Riley says the issue over confederate imagery in St. Paul’s came during a sermon, asking, “Could the Spirit be calling for a new perspective… a new ministry?”

“I raised the idea, perhaps this is the time for us to have a conversation about the confederate memorials and images here in the church, and immediately got a lot of positive response from the congregation,” he said.

What followed were two “prayerful conversations” with church leaders and congregants, pondering the question, “How would God lead us into a new way…a yet better way perhaps, of proclaiming Christ through our worship space itself? Are there things here that we need to take a look at?”

What changes might be made and when are still up for debate, but for Adams-Riley, what ever action is taken ultimately comes down to this.

“We’re asking ourselves, are there some things here in the worship space that we might do that might help communicate more fully a message of reconciliation,” Adams-Riley explained.

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