Letter to the Editor: An Important Distinction at St. Peter’s

The Historic interior of St. Peter's Church.

To the editor:

Thank you for the lovely article in your September issue on the Bicentennial of St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill. We are very proud of our parish and were happy to see its long history remembered in the Hill Rag.

I would like to expand on one point in the story, however. In a description of the original St. Peter’s church building from the 19th century, your reporter notes that upper balconies on either side of the church were “reserved” for African American parishioners – technically correct, perhaps, but an unfortunate word choice. In that era and halfway into the 20th century, congregations at St. Peter’s were segregated; African Americans were required to sit upstairs or, in later iterations of the church building, in the rear pews. We consider this a painful blot on our history, one that we hope to address in a Liturgy of Atonement, as one of the events marking our Bicentennial.

Thank you for allowing me to make that important distinction.

Ellen Coughlin,

for St. Peter’s Bicentennial Communications Committee