Church Honors America’s First Black Female Methodist Bishop In New Window


Photo: Getty Images

A church in Idaho made some major changes to its stained glass windows and honored the nation’s first Black female Methodist bishop in the process.

The Cathedral of the Rockies First Methodist Church in Boise removed a panel of its stained glass windows depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and replaced it with one that honors the late Bishop Leontine Kelly.

Kelly was the first Black woman to become a Methodist bishop in the United States, being elected to the position during a 1984 ceremony. A stained glass recreation of Kelly’s likeness donning an LGBTQ scarf now stands in the place where all three men once were. The portrait of Kelly depicted in the glass panel was inspired by a photo taken of her during a 1985 protest against nuclear weapons.

Kelly was selected out of 50 others to replace the window after the church voted to remove it last August.

“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,” Anders added. The old panel is currently being held at the Idaho Black History Museum to be preserved in an effort to teach about the nation’s past.

I spoke to the children of Leontine Kelly to learn more about the life of the woman replacing Robert E. Lee in a Boise church window. They told me they grew up just blocks away from Lee’s statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.https://t.co/atgzmEDm3A

— Sally Krutzig (@sallykrutzig) December 11, 2021

The new $25,591 stained glass window was created by Minnesota-based studio Willet Hauser Architectural Glass and put in place last week Tuesday (December 7).

Kelly’s children, Angella Current Felder and John Current said they are glad to see their mother’s trailblazing legacy stained in glass.

Her life is a culmination of many generations in the Methodist church,” her son 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 two Methodist pastors,” he said.

“That’s a unique legacy, and we’re honor to see her memory in stained glass.”

Current Felder penned a book on her mother’s life entitled, Breaking Barriers: An African American Family and the Methodist Story.

Bishop Leontine Kelly passed away in 2012 at the age of 92.

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