In June 2015, soon after nine worshippers were gunned down at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., by a gunman who was later shown embracing the Confederate battle flag, attention focused on two stained glass windows in the Cathedral that contain images of the Confederate battle flag.
The windows were installed in 1953 with a gift, led by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to honor the lives of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Both windows featured the Confederate battle flag and other scenes from the lives of the two men.
Then-Dean Gary Hall called for the Confederate windows to be removed and replaced by new windows that “could adequately represent the history of race, slavery, and division in America” and also “best represent our shared history of war and peace, racial division and reconciliation.”
In August 2016, the two images of the Confederate battle flag were removed following a unanimous vote by the Cathedral Chapter.
The windows remain in place during a two-year process as a catalyst for much-needed discussions and discernment about racism, the legacy of slavery and the way forward. Ultimately, the final decision on the future of the windows rests with the Cathedral Chapter, or governing body.
The Cathedral anticipates a vibrant and wide-ranging public discussion about the windows, as well as questions of the role of art in religious life, new understandings of old symbols and a cathedral’s shifting understanding of itself and its role in public life. Public comments and ideas are welcome at cathedral.org/windows.