A church in Boise, Idaho, has moved away from its support of the Confederacy by replacing a stained glass window featuring Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee was pictured alongside his rival, Abraham Lincoln, as well as the country’s first president George Washington. The new stained glass window will now depict the late Bishop Leontine Kelly, who passed away at the ripe age of 92 in 2012, where she had lived with her family in Richmond, Virginia.
“‘We voted to remove it, not knowing whom we would put in the window, but we would figure out something to represent,” senior pastor Duane Anders told the Statesman. “So for a year and a half, the windows have been clear. In a sense, we let some light in.”
The Idaho church came up with fifty possible people to replace the Confederate general’s image. After a year and a half, the church finally figured out who they wanted to represent – the bishop – after the window was blank. The cost of the new stained-glass window was $25,591. The church felt that the price was well worth it because they did not want to show support for the Confederacy.
Bishop Kelly was chosen among fifty possible candidates for the stained glass window. Because of her influence, she was a respected person in the Christian church.
“As we started working through the names, one just kept rising to the top because of our connection to the person and their connection to Boise,” Anders said. “And that’s Bishop Leontine Kelly.”
The new window was created by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, which is based in Minnesota. The church used its endowment fund to pay for the expensive new window that replaced the image of Robert E. Lee.
Bishop Kelly’s children are eager to visit the Boise church so they can see the window that honors their late mother.
“Some people were saying it can’t happen, it’s not going to happen,” Kelly’s daughter Angella Current Felder said. “So the fact that it happened, for those of us who recognize and believe in the Holy Spirit, it was divinely guided.”
Kelly’s son John Current loved his mother and was very proud of how she managed to become a Bishop despite it being a male-dominated field.
“What she inherited there was a wooden church that had been built 100 years earlier, probably right around the time of the emancipation of the slaves, and a hole that had been dug for a new foundation for a new church,” Current said. “She, confronted with ‘Where do I go from here?’ responded, ‘God.’ It was a very male-dominated culture. However, Jesus did violate the customs of the culture in that he talked with women, shared with women. Women were part of the entourage of Jesus Christ. God calls whomever God would call.”
Current serves as a senior pastor at the Hope United Methodist Church in San Francisco.
“Her life is a culmination of many generations in the Methodist Church,” he said. “She was a daughter of a Methodist pastor, sister of a Methodist pastor, she married a Methodist pastor, and she’s the mother of Methodist pastors. That’s a unique legacy, and we’re honored to see her memory in stained glass.”