The measure includes six plaques with various versions of the Confederate flag, the church’s coat of arms with the flag on kneelers at the high altar, and bookplates in some books in the church’s library.
The coat of arms will be retired, and the church will start to dig deeper in its history, the role of race and slavery in that history, and how parishioners can engage in conversations about race in the Richmond region, church leadership announced Sunday, three months after conversations began with the congregation.
The elected church leadership also said it hopes to erect a memorial to honor slaves in Richmond, especially slaves who were members of St. Paul’s Episcopal.
“While the Vestry does not believe that St. Paul’s should attempt to remove all symbols reflecting St. Paul’s past during the Civil War, the Vestry is united in agreement that it is not appropriate to display the Confederate battle flag in the church,” a church statement said.
The needlepoint kneelers have already been removed from the sanctuary. The two plaques on opposite walls of the sanctuary honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy’s president Jefferson Davis will be removed and placed in a not-yet-determined exhibit. Also in the exhibit will be a plaque installed in 1961 memorializing Confederate soldiers.
The plaques honoring Davis’ wife Varina Howell and daughter Varina Davis will be modified to remove the battle flag without removing the plaque from the church walls. A plaque honoring Frederic Robert Scott, an Ireland-born Confederate major, also will be modified to remove the battle flag.
The announcement came five months after the Charleston, S.C., church massacre that left nine people dead sparked a national conversation on the appropriateness of Confederate flags in public places.
Soon after, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution urging their churches nationwide to remove any Confederate battle flags.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond across from Capitol Square has not flown the Confederate flag since the 1960s.
But mementos honoring the Confederate era of Richmond’s history are prominent in the church’s sanctuary. Windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis as biblical characters will remain untouched.