Race in America

Racial reconciliation and justice is a top missional priority at Washington National Cathedral.

St. John reminds us, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

The Cathedral seeks to act for justice and model prayerful and productive conversations around issues of race. In our worship, advocacy and witness, we aim to help create Dr. King’s Beloved Community for all of God’s children.

Resources from ‘Gracious and Courageous Conversations’

On October 15 and 16, 2017, more than 200 people came together at the Cathedral for conversation on race, sacred space, and the Cathedral’s Lee-Jackson windows, facilitated by the Kaleidoscope Institute.

Participants took turns responding to reflective questions posed over the course of three rounds of conversation. Song, prayer, and gracious listening brought a diverse group of people to the final question: “What is God calling us to do, be, or change?” Everyone was invited to complete a “pledge” with a variety of options for ongoing participation.

 Individuals and groups were asked to write down their hopes and concerns and their answers to the question: “As a result of this dialogue, what is God calling us to do, be, or change with regard to race relations?” This information from those discussions is now available:

Washington National Cathedral is committed to following up on these first conversations by continuing to engage our congregation and the broader community. To follow or participate in these efforts, sign up here

Special thanks to the Kaleidoscope Institute, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, The Episcopal Church and the many facilitators and volunteers who supported these gatherings.

September 6, 2017: A final decision on the Lee-Jackson Windows

After two years of prayer and deliberation, both public and private, the Cathedral Chapter voted overwhelmingly to remove two stained-glass windows honoring Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. “While this part of our work has reached its end, the harder task of working for racial justice, combating intolerance and fostering reconciliation continues with renewed urgency,” Cathedral leaders said. Read the full statement.

June 30, 2017:  Dean Hollerith on the Lee-Jackson Windows

Responding to questions about the Cathedral’s process on deciding the future of the Lee-Jackson windows, Dean Randy Hollerith says: “Throughout this process, we will remain committed to our baptismal covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being.” We all must continue be open to the movement of the Spirit in our midst and make space for all of God’s children as we learn and grow together.” Read more.

March 29, 2017 | Saints and Sinners: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson

Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are more than just historical figures — for some, they are Southern saints. For others, they represent a culture and way of life that was fueled by the enslavement of African Americans. So who were they?

On March 29 at 7:30 p.m., the Cathedral explored the lives and legacies of these two men, and why their stories were honored in stained glass inside Washington National Cathedral. We’ll also look at the stories of the people who were impacted by Lee and Jackson’s actions, whose stories aren’t reflected in those windows. What did we know of them when they were alive, what did we think of them when the Lee-Jackson windows were installed, and what are we to make of them today?

Speakers include:

Jan. 16, 2017 | 2 p.m. | We Shall Not Be Moved: Sanctuary, Witness and Covenant


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called on faith communities, specifically the church, to be sanctuary for those in need and to demonstrate public witness to injustice. Through song, narrative, and prophetic reflection, this celebration will explore how faith communities have lived into that call, and what sanctuary and witness look like today.

We will end in the act of covenant – mutual commitment to one another and to the ongoing movement for a just reconciliation, the freedom for which King and others worked tirelessly.


Oct. 26, 2016 | 7 p.m. | Monuments Speak: The Lee-Jackson Windows


In 2015, immediately following the Charleston massacre, then-Dean Gary Hall called for the removal of two stained glass windows in the Cathedral that honor Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. After a year of exploration by an appointed task force, the Cathedral made the decision to remove the image of the Confederate battle flag from these two windows and to embark on a program of robust discussion and engagement on race and the Church.

On October 26 at 7pm, the Cathedral will hold our first public conversation focused on these windows. Speakers will reflect on their historical and current context, and respond to the Cathedral’s decision to remove the image of the Confederate flag while retaining the full windows during this interim period.

Speakers include:

This program is underwritten by gifts given in honor of the Very Rev. Gary Hall in thanksgiving for his leadership and prophetic voice during his tenure at Washington National Cathedral.

Sept. 21, 2016 | Freedom’s Call & Response in African American Spirituals

In partnership with the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Cathedral presents “God’s Gonna Trouble the Water: Freedom’s Call & Response in African American Spirituals.”

Watch webcast:

Spirituals tell the often untold story of a people in their struggle to survive and  be  free from the tyranny of slavery. Through rhythms and song, an enslaved people crafted a music that testified to their faith and their humanity as it contested the ideologies and institutions that enslaved them. The spirituals found expression through the blues and the freedom songs of the Civil Rights movement and continue to call out to us today as they witness to a time when all of God’s children will be free.  

Selections include Wade in the Water, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Woke up this Morning, Go Down Moses, This Little Light of Mine, We Shall Overcome, and John Coltrane’s searing composition Alabama, composed as musical response to the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.

Speakers and Musicians include:

For additional information, click here.

July 17, 2016 | The dialogue continues

On Sunday, July 17, the Cathedral hosted a panel discussion on “What the White Church Must Do,” in partnership with the March on Washington Film Festival.

Speakers include:


Canon Theologian Kelly Brown Douglas responds to Lee-Jackson Windows

Organizing for Racial Justice

Get involved with the Cathedral’s mission and organize for racial justice. Fill out a brief information form to learn more and get started:

info form

9/21/16: Freedom's Call & Response in African American Spirituals

Lee-Jackson Windows Task Force

After detailed research, careful deliberation, and prayerful discernment, the five-­member Task Force submitted its report and recommendations to the Chapter:

Task Force Report (PDF)

Please direct any questions or comments to:

[email protected]

Recent Videos

February 14, 2016: Sunday Sermon by Bryan Stevenson