Letter from Memphis clergy members to Tennessee Historical Commission in support of moving Forrest statue

Leaders in the faith community were among those with whom Mayor Strickland met late last month to explain the process of statue removal and galvanize support behind the City’s waiver request.

Note: This letter is authored and signed by 177 clergy members in Greater Memphis representing 102 congregations and institutions. The full list of clergy members is below.

Sept. 19, 2017

To the members of the Tennessee Historical Commission:

We are Memphis clergy white and black, young and old, Christian and Jew, transcending every political party. We want you to know how much we support Mayor Jim Strickland’s request for a waiver under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act to relocate the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest to a more historically appropriate site.

By no means are we seeking to erase history. It is imperative that we understand history; the foundations of our society, of our country, and our faith traditions are built on that. But it is also important that we understand historical figures and events in their full context. It was not until 1905 — half a century after the Civil War and in the throes of the implementation of Jim Crow laws across the South — that the statue of Forrest was placed in a public square. This monument to Forrest belongs elsewhere, not in the center of our city’s hub. Beyond the historical inaccuracy and geographic irrelevancy of his monument, it does not represent who we are as people of faith.

Memphis is a wonderful place made even better by our diversity. Many have voiced concerns that this statue does not convey the complete story of our city’s rich history and could better serve the pursuit of understanding and educating the public as well as future generations in a more historically appropriate site.

We appreciate your service to Tennessee. Commemorating our state’s rich history is significant to all of us, thus we make our respectful plea. As leaders of the faith community in Memphis, representing every corner of the theological spectrum, we strongly urge you to grant Mayor Jim Strickland’s request for a waiver to relocate the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest that stands in the heart of our city.

Rev. R.F. Abran, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Noah Alexander, Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. David Anderson, Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church
Dean Andy Andrews, St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Anne H.K. Apple, Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Rev. Ben Badgett, Church of the Holy Communion
Rev. Clifford A. Bahlinger, St. Luke Lutheran Church
Rabbi Katie Bauman, Temple Israel
Rev. Chris Bennett, Renewal Church
Rev. Etoy Bogard, Sandhill Baptist Church
Rev. David A. Bowen, Second Presbyterian Church
Senior Servant Pastor Kelvin Bowen, Christ Fellowship Church
Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge, First Baptist Church
Rev. B.A. Brooks, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Roger R. Brown, Greater White Stone Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Ron Brown, St. Luke Baptist Church
Rev. Wade Bryant, Monumental Baptist Church
Rev. Margaret Burnett, Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dan Burns, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Richard G. Cain, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Donald Castle, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Charlie Caswell, Union Grove Baptist Church
Rev. Will Christians, Shady Grove Presbyterian Church
Rev. Cassandra Clairett, Monumental Baptist Church
Rev. Sam W. Clark Jr., Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Chris Conlee, Highpoint Church
Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Cook, Second Baptist Church
Rev. Cheryl Cornish, First Congregational Church
Rev. Darrell Cunningham, Cornerstone Institutional Baptist Church
Rev. Issac Curry, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Christopher B. Davis Sr., St. Paul Baptist Church
Rev. Michael Davis, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Willie Davis, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Leonard Dawson, Cane Creek Baptist Church
Rev. Julia Goldie Day, Second Baptist Church
Rev. Maurice Dickerson, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Linwood Dillard, Citadel of Deliverance Church of God in Christ
Rev. Sara B. Dorrien-Christians, Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Earheart-Brown, Memphis Theological Seminary
Rev. John Elate, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. D. Todd Erickson, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Eyleen Farmer, Calvary Episcopal Church
Rabbi Joel Finkelstein, Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Congregation
Rev. David W. Fitzgerald, Mt. Gilliam Baptist Church
Rev. Ricky Floyd, Pursuit of God Transformation Center
Rev. Samuel L. Ford Jr., New Gilfield Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Steve Gaines, Bellevue Baptist Church
Rev. Freddie Garrison, Jordan River Baptist Church
Rev. Gerson Garros, Trinity Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Laura Gettys, St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. John Glaze, New Sardis Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr., New Sardis Baptist Church
Rev. Terrance Gray, Downtown Church
Rabbi Micah Greenstein, Temple Israel
Rev. Dr. Carl Greer, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Robert Grisham, Neighborhood Church
Bishop David Hall, Temple Church of God in Christ
Father Val Handwerker, St. Patrick Catholic Church
Rev. Darrell Harrington, New Sardis Baptist Church
Rev. Albert Harwell, Melrose Baptist Church
Rev. Henry Hassell, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Dr. Stephen Haynes, Rhodes College
Rev. Dr. Brian Henderson, Parkway Gardens United Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Eugene Henson, Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Richard Hipps, Trinity Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Tony Hodges, Scenic Hills Baptist Church
Rev. Vernon Horner, Greater New Bethel Baptist Church
Rabbi Sarit Horwitz, Beth Sholom Synagogue
Rev. Dr. Kendra G. Hotz, Rhodes College
Rev. Dr. Mary Lin Hudson, Memphis Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Cole Huffman, First Evangelical Church
Rev. Samuel Husband, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Elton Hymon, New Hickory Hill Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Ydell Ishmon Sr., Boston Baptist Church
Rev. C.B. Jackson Jr., Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Dr. Jonathan L. Jeffords, St. John’s United Methodist Church
Rev. Daniel Johnson, Second Baptist Church
Rev. Dere Johnson, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Charles Jones, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Jeremy Jones, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Mary Kaylor, First Baptist Church
Rev. Archie Kelly, Sold Out 4 Christ Ministries
Rev. Willie Kelsey, Faith Temple Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. James Kendrick, Oak Grove Baptist Church
Rev. John Kilzer, St. John’s United Methodist Church
Rev. Barton Kimbro, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Ronnie C. King, Grace Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Brittany Stillwell Krebs, First Baptist Church
Rev. Mike Kretch, Grace Presbyterian Church
Rev. Rebekah Abel Lamar, Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Rev. Virzola Law, Lindenwood Christian Church
Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfield, Baron Hirsch Congregation
Rev. J.E. Lewis II, Rehobeth Outreach Ministries
Rev. Dr. Sean Michael Lucas, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Charles Mabin, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Mike Malone, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Daniel Martin, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Hester Mathes, Church of the Holy Communion
Rev. Dustin May, Highpoint Church
Rev. Hardie Mays, Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Robert McClain, Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Randy McCloy, Church of the Holy Communion
Rev. Paul McLain, Calvary Episcopal Church
Rev. Carla Meisterman, Balmoral Presbyterian Church
Rev. Thomas A. Momberg, Memphis
Rev. Dr. Dwight Montgomery, Annesdale Cherokee Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Stephen R. Montgomery, Idlewild Presbyterian Church
Rev. David Morris, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Eli Morris, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Jessica Morris, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Ryan Mullins, Highpoint Church
Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Murray Sr., Anointed Temple of Praise Outreach Ministries
Rev. Dr. James L. Netters, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church
Rev. Garland Neal, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Edward Norton, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Orr, Brown Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Taylor Park, First Evangelical Church
Rev. John Payne, Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church
Rev. Gerry A. Peak, Second Presbyterian Church
Bishop Brandon B. Porter, Greater Community Temple Church of God in Christ
Rev. Dr. Reginald Porter Sr., Metropolitan Baptist Church
Rev. Andy Rambo, First United Methodist Church
Rev. Robert Rhymes, First Baptist-First Street Church
Rev. Richard Rieves, Downtown Church
Rev. Dr. George W. Robertson, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Brad Robson, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Jeffrey Rudy, Ellendale United Methodist Church
Rev. Hubon Sandridge, Thomas Chapel Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Shane Sanford, Christ United Methodist Church
Rev. Clennon Saulsberry, New Nonconnah Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Andy Savage, Highpoint Church
Rev. C.V. “Bo” Scarborough, Presbytery of the Mid-South
Rev. Lance Scarbrough, Highpoint Church
Rev. Larry J. Shelton, New Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Rev. Freddie Short, Monumental Baptist Church
Rev. G.C. Simpson Jr., Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church
Rev. Deborah Smith, District Superintendent, Memphis Conference, United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Melvin Smith, Mt. Moriah East Baptist Church
Rev. Rufus W. Smith IV, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Stacy L. Spencer, New Direction Christian Church
Rev. Charles Stanback, President, Baptist Ministerial Alliance, Greater Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Bishop Edward H. Stephens Jr., Golden Gate Cathedral
Rev. Dr. Craig Strickland, Hope Presbyterian Church
Rev. L. James Stokes, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Michael Stokke, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Frederick D. Tappan, Eureka Truevine Baptist Church
Rev. Sara K. Tate, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rev. Parker Tenet, Independent Presbyterian Church
Rev. Sam Teitel, Church of the River 
Rev. Brad Thomas, Raleigh and Scenic Hills United Methodist Churches
Rev. Marron Thomas, Innovation Church
Rev. C.W. Tutton, Ellis Grove Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. J. Lawrence Turner, Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church
Rev. Billy Vaughan, Memphis Theological Seminary
Rev. Sonia Louden Walker, First Congregational Church
Rev. J. Scott Walters, Calvary Episcopal Church
Rev. Willie Ward, Mt. Pisgah Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. William Warren, Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Germantown
Rev. Melvin D. Watkins, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church
Rev. Lucy A. Waechter Webb, Evergreen Presbyterian Church
Rev. Sandy Webb, Church of the Holy Communion
Rev. Monica Weber, Epiphany Lutheran Church
Rev. Mimi White, St. John’s United Methodist Church
Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins, Germantown Presbyterian Church
Rev. Joe N. Wiley, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. John Wilkins, Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. James E. Williams, Hope Fellowship Baptist Church
Bishop Henry Williamson, Presiding Bishop, First Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Sandy Willson, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Walter Womack, Faithful Baptist Church
Rev. Joseph Woodford Jr., Baptist Ministerial Alliance
Rev. Jeremy Wright, Cherokee Baptist Church
Rev. Brett Wynne, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Josh Yates, Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dianne Young, Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church
Rev. Steve Young, Ardmore Terrace Baptist Church
Bishop William Young, Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church

This letter was transmitted to the Tennessee Historical Commission on Sept. 19. If you’re a clergy member wishing to add your name to the electronic version, please email Special Assistant for Community Affairs Ken Moody at ken.moody@memphistn.gov or Deputy Director of Communications Kyle Veazey at kyle.veazey@memphistn.gov.