Virginia church drops “Robert E. Lee” name

Lexington, Va. (WSLS) – A Lexington, Virginia church named after a Confederate general now has a new name.

After more than two years of debate, the church vestry voted Monday night to remove Robert E. Lee from its name and restore it back to what it was when the church was founded, Grace Episcopal Church.

“To see folks so divided over our name and what our name means has been very difficult,” Grace Episcopal Church Program Director Sharon Massie said.

The controversy over the name of Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church started after the Charleston church shooting in 2015 and has only escalated since then in light of recent events like Charlottesville.

“We wanted a name that was open and inviting. Many people believe our name was not inviting enough for our mission,” Grace Episcopal Church Rector Tom Crittenden said.

The decision to rename the church has caused a deep division within the congregation.

“We’ve seen families leave, people leave,” Massie said.

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