National Cathedral to Remove or ‘Contextualize' Confederate Stained Glass Windows

"Those windows won't remain in their current place in their current context"

Amid conversations across the country about whether to remove Confederate statues, the Washington National Cathedral will decide soon whether to remove two stained glass windows that depict Confederate generals, News4 has learned.

Church officials told News4 they will make an announcement soon and not wait until summer 2018 to decide, as the church previously planned.

"The events in Charlottesille have certainly added a sense of urgency that wasn't there before," cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom said. 

The pair of 8-foot-by-4-foot windows installed in 1953 memorialize Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. They were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

The church will either remove the windows or add information about their history, Eckstrom said. 

"We have two choices: one is to remove the windows, or the other is to somehow contexualize them. We're looking at both to see which one makes the most sense for this cathedral. But one thing's for sure: those windows won't remain in their current place in their current context. Something is going to change," he said. 

The cathedral has a separate Civil War memorial that shows two hands grasping an olive branch. It represents attempts to heal the nation after the war. 

The news on the Confederate windows comes as workers in Charlottesville, Virginia, shrouded a statue of Lee in a move intended to symbolize the city's mourning for a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.

In 2016, the cathedral removed the Confederate battle flag from the stained glass windows because they were images of hatred and racial supremacy, a church task force determined. The flags were removed after the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

"The cathedral leadership voted unanimously that the Confederate battle flag was an image of hatred and oppression and had no place in the cathedral," Eckstrom said.

The cathedral has been holding discussion groups on race relations. Those discussions will continue no matter the fate of the windows. 

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