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An open letter from New Orleans clergy to the community of New Orleans

We’re standing together for a united city …

 

To the blessed citizens of New Orleans,

As clergy leaders in the city of New Orleans, we have watched and listened intently to the ongoing conversations about the monuments to the Confederate States of America that dot our City’s landscape. We also carry some of the weight of responsibility for the presence of these monuments, for we know that pastors, Bishops and Archbishops before us were key figures in seeking funding in the efforts to erect these very monuments.

For some, the confederate monuments are symbols of our history that ought to be preserved. For many others, these symbols are living reminders of slavery, our segregationist past and the still bleeding wound that is systemic racism.

As the spiritual leaders of New Orleans, we know the power of symbols, which is why we stand in support of their removal.  In their current state, lacking any proper context, these monuments do not teach us about the past. They reflect a deafening silence about Jim Crow culture.

Statues such as the Statue of Jefferson Davis located at the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway, Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle formerly known as Tivoli Circle, the memorial inscription at the Monument of The Battle of Liberty Place and the statue of General P.G.T Beauregard at the entrance to City Park are living links to past crimes against our common humanity. As symbols in our growing international city, these monuments belong not in our public line of sight, but in museums where context and education may be given and learned from.

At the base of our nation’s greatest symbol, the Statue of Liberty, there is an inscription. It reads:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

 

These words and this symbol have given hope to millions across all generations, across all nationalities, races and cultures. It is this type of monument under which we, the people of New Orleans, should gather to celebrate our life together in our sacred city.

New Orleans is a great city. Its people have done great things in the arts, music and industry. This is the culture and history we should celebrate in our monuments, for they point to who we are as a common people and who we want to be.

Faithfully,

Dr. C. S. Gordon, Jr., President, Louisiana Missionary Baptist State Convention (LMBSC); Pastor, New Zion Baptist Church; President-Elect, Interchurch Conference;  President, Together Louisiana

Dr. David Crosby, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, New Orleans

The Very Reverend David DuPlantier, Dean, Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal)

Rev. Shawn Anglim, Pastor, First Grace United Methodist Church

Dr. Ansel Augustine, Office of Black Catholic Ministries, Archdiocese of New Orleans

Rev. Antoine Barriere, Senior Pastor, Household of Faith Family Worship Church

Pastor Fred Luter, Past President, Southern Baptist Convention; Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church

Dr. Darryl S. Brister, Pastor, Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral

Dr. Debra Morton, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship

Sr. Alison McCrary, CSJ, St. Augustine Catholic Church of New Orleans

Dr. Torin Sanders, Pastor, The Sixth Baptist Church

Bishop Tommie Triplett, Jr., Pastor, United Fellowship Full Gospel Baptist Church

Rev. Johnnie Arvie, Law Street Baptist Church

Rev. Jimmy Autry, Pastor, Cornerstone Christian Center

Fr. Walter Baer, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Apostle Gary Bailey, Sr., Chief Cornerstone Full Gospel Ministries

Fr. Richard Banks, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Rev. Elvin J. Bazile, Jr., Pastor, Christian Congregational Baptist Church

Rev. Paul Beedle, First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans

Rev. Irvin Bell, Elder, Castle Rock Community Church

Rev. Jeffery Benn, Jr., Pastor, Full Harvest Ministries

Rabbi Alexis Berk, Touro Synagogue

Rev. Donald R. Berryhill, Pastor, First Zion Baptist Church

Rev. Philip Brockett, Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ

Rev. Claire Brooks, Berean Presbyterian Church

Rev. Joseph Brooks, Pastor, Greater Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Lance Brown, Canal Street Church

Rev. Simon Chigumira, Asbury United Methodist Church

Deacon Larry Clanton, Fellowship Baptist Church

Deacon Elaine Clements, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

The Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel, The Episcopal Church

Rabbi Edward Cohn, Congregation Temple Sinai

Deacon Kathleen Comer, Chapel of the Holy Comforter, Episcopal

Rev. Jeff Conner, United Methodist Church

Rev. John Craft, Chaplain, Episcopal Chapel of the Holy Comforter, SUNO & UNO

Rev. Anita Dinwiddie, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church

Bishop Joe Doss, Retired, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Rev. Nathaniel Dowl, III, Pastor, Greater St. James Baptist Church

Rev. J. C. Dyson, Pastor, Sr., Holy Faith Temple

Rev. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Pastor, Hartzell United Methodist Church

Rev. Norman Francis, St. Stephen Baptist Church

Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, Retired

Rev. Willie Gable, Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. JoAnn Garma, Director of Pastoral, Supervisor, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (Retired)

Pastor John Gerhardt, Castle Rock Community Church

Dr. Moses S. Gordon II, Pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Moses S. Gordon III, Pastor, First African Baptist Church 6th District; Pastor-Elect Greater Pleasant Green Baptist Church

Rev. Roger Graham, Pastor, Greater St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Orin D. Grant, Sr., Pastor, St. Paul Baptist Church

Rev. Willie Green, Pastor, First Mission Baptist Church; Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Association

Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg, Congregation Beth Israel

Rev Andrew Greenhaw, St. Paul’s UCC

Rev. Bertrand Griffin II, Gretna United Methodist Church

Rev. Morgan Guyton, NOLA Wesley United Methodist campus ministry, Tulane and Loyola Universities

Rev. Lonzo L. Hamilton, Sr., Pastor, St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. J. L. Hampton, Sr., Pastor, St. Mark and Eastern Star Baptist Churches

The Very Rev. A. J. Heine, Rector, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Metairie

Pastor Frederick Henderson, Pastor, The Rock Full Gospel Baptist Church

Bishop Jerry Henry, Sr., Pastor, Dominion and Power Ministries

Rev. Percy Howard, Pastor, Restoration Baptist Church

Rev. Daniel Hudson, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kenner

Rev. Creal James, Sr., Pastor, Mount Triumph Baptist Church

Rev. Chris Janeau, Pastor, Victory Church

Rev. Donald C. Jeanjacques, Pastor, True Vine Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Anthony Jeanmarie III, Pastor, New Philippians Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Ernest Johnson, Pastor, Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church

Rev. Ricky Johnson, Pastor, Mt. Olive Baptist Church

Rev. Louis Jones, Pastor, St. John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dan Krutz, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

Rev. Reginald Landry, Pastor, First Evangelist Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Henry Lawrence III, Willing Workers Missionary Baptist Church

Rabbi Ethan Linden, Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation

Rabbi Robert Loewy, Congregation Gates of Prayer

Rev. Lester Love, Pastor, The City of Love Church

Deacon Ernest Maloid, Our Covenant Church

Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger, Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists

Rev. James Morrison, Rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Rev. Bernard Murray, Greater Mt. Rose Missionary Baptist Church

Pastor Robert Myers, Pastor, Greater Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, 2nd Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Duane Nettles, Rector, Church of the Annunciation (Episcopal)

Rev. Reginald Nicholas, Sr., Pastor, Olive Branch Baptist Church, Moderator, Cornerstone Missionary Baptist General Association

Rev. Hill Riddle, Retired, Trinity Episcopal Church

Rev. Darcy Roake, Community Church Unitarian Universalist (Affiliated)

Rev. Charles Southall III, First Emmanuel Baptist Church

Rev. Cory Sparks, Parker United Methodist Church

Rev. Albert Stewart, Jr., Pastor, Spirit of Liberty Baptist Church

Rev. Christopher Sylvain, Faith Full Gospel Baptist Church

The Rev. William Terry, Rector, St. Anna’s Episcopal Church

Rev. Kenneth G. Thibodeaux, Asia Baptist Church

Rev. William Thiele, Pastor, Parker Memorial United Methodist Church

Rev. Edward H. Thompson, Rector, All Souls Episcopal Church

The Rev. Bridget Tierney, Advent House / Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral

Rev. Robert Turner, St. Mark’s Fourth Baptist Church

Rev. Ronald Unger, Christ the King Lutheran Church

Rev. Jim VanderWeele, Pastor, Community Church Unitarian Universalists

Rev. Deanna Vandiver, Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists

Rev. C. E. Washington, Pastor, Fairview Baptist Church

Rev. Tom Watson, Pastor, Watson Memorial Church

Rev. Dwight Webster, Christian Unity Baptist Church

Rev. William Wilson, Israelite Divine S.C.

Rev. Callie Winn Crawford, United Methodist Pastor

Rev. Calvin Woods, Greater Liberty Baptist Church

Rev. Melvin Zeno, Pastor, St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church

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