A church in Idaho has replaced a stained glass window that featured Confederate General Robert E. Lee with one that showcases the first African American woman bishop of the United Methodist Church.
First United Methodist Church of Boise, also known as the Cathedral of the Rockies, installed the new stained glass window depicting Bishop Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly on Dec. 7.
In comments to The Christian Post on Tuesday, the Rev. Duane Anders of the Cathedral of the Rockies explained that Kelly, who died in 2012, was connected to the church, as she had been “elected bishop in Boise at a Western Jurisdiction meeting of the UMC.”
The stained glass depiction of Kelly shows her wearing a rainbow stole, representing her history of being an advocate for greater inclusivity of LGBT individuals in the church.
The UMC is presently dealing with an increasingly divisive debate over whether it should maintain its official biblically-based stance on homosexuality, noting that it’s a sin, and opposition to same-sex marriage.
When asked by CP if featuring the rainbow stole would spark yet another round of controversy over the church’s décor, Anders responded that he did not believe it would do so, adding that “the Gospel includes all.”
In 1960, the Cathedral added a stained glass window that featured Lee and former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington all standing in a row.
In an interview with CP last year, Anders said the window featuring Lee was likely aimed at being more inclusive of southerners who had moved to Boise at the time.
In August 2020, the church held a deconsecration service in which they removed the stained glass window with Lee and the two former presidents.
Those in attendance at the service included Anders, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky of the UMC Greater Northwest Episcopal area, Phillip Thomson of the Idaho Black History Museum, and Church Council Chair Susie Pouliot.
“We believe continuing to have a window that includes Gen. Lee, who led the Confederate army in a war that was fought over slavery is inconsistent with our mission as a church and our values as Christians,” Pouliot said at the time, according to the UMC Oregon-Idaho Conference.
“We cannot have a banner above our door that says, ‘all means all — you are welcome here’ and continue to have a symbol of white supremacy in the form of Gen. Lee’s visage just a few feet away.”