Webinar: Dealing with the Past from a Theological /Faith-based practice
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.
In June 2015, Dylann Roof, a White Supremacist, shot nine people at Bible Study in Charleston, South Carolina. The Reverend Wallace Adams-Riley later delivered a sermon about his own church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va. The church was consecrated in 1845 and was the home parish church for many leaders of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. For many years, the church was called the Cathedral of the Confederacy and its nineteenth century members were very active in preserving the memory of the Confederate States of America and the theology of The Lost Cause. In November 2015, St. Paul’s began a four-year effort to reconcile and seek a deeper understanding of our past and possibly evolving as the Cathedral of Reconciliation for our city, the former capitol of the Confederacy. We are not and do not wish to be identified with white supremacy, or Lost Cause theology. The St. Paul’s of today is a diverse church community open and welcoming to all.
The four-year endeavor was named History and Reconciliation Initiative (HRI) and adopted a mission statement:
In light of our Christian faith, we will trace and acknowledge the racial history of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in order to repair, restore and seek reconciliation with God, each other and the broader community.
Linda Armstrong and Barbara Holley, parishioners of St. Paul’s and members of the History and Reconciliation Initiative Steering Committee, will explain the team structure of their efforts, the proposed timeline of events and accomplishments to date. The Initiative will conclude with a special Reconciliation service on November 11, 2020, the 175th anniversary of the consecration of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Linda and Barbara will discuss the achievements of the HRI work, what lies ahead, what theology and literature inspired and guided their work.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundation of many generations; you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to live in. Isaiah 58:12
Barbara M. Holley is a retired registered nurse. Since 2003, she has been a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and an active member of the community in Richmond, VA. St. Paul’s provides many opportunities for outreach involvement, including feeding the working poor, mentoring students at Woodville Elementary School, Lay Eucharistic Ministry, Bible Study, youth group and adult relationships. She is currently a member of the History and Reconciliation Initiative (HRI) Steering Committee and Memorials Committee.
It is the participation with HRI that has led to an interest in learning more regarding the historical harms of our past. St. Paul’s past was consumed with the confederacy. Our study and hope for the future is to reconcile the past and to honor the present.
Linda Holt Armstrong is a retired Training Manager for Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in Richmond,Virginia. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Masters in Education with a focus on Training and Adult Education.
Raised in the Presbyterian Church USA, Linda was confirmed in the Episcopal Church as an adult. She is an active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Capitol Square in Richmond Virginia. She and serves on the Vestry.
Since 2015, Ms. Armstrong has been Chair of the History and Reconciliation Initiative. The program will span four years of historical research and reconciliation efforts culminating on the 175th anniversary of St. Paul’s on November 11, 2020.
This webinar is funded with a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.