CORNELIUS, N.C. (WBTV) - Members of Unity in Community, a local group that works to build relationships, improve racial equity, and fight racism, are calling for a Confederate monument outside of a local church to be removed.
A memorial to fallen soldiers currently stands in front of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. The statue is several feet tall. The base of the monument is inscribed with the words, ‘our confederate soldiers’, and a confederate flag is also sculpted into the side of the stone. The top of the statue depicts a soldier holding a rifle.
A few days ago, the leaders of the church, Reverends Jonathan Marlowe and Dr. Angela Marlowe, called on the owners of the monument to consider the harm the statue may be causing to some community members.
The church leaders said the monument is not owned by the church or affiliated with the church. They said the statue and property are owned by the Mt. Zion Monument Association.
The message sent out by the pastors is seen below:
The Confederate monument and property is not owned by Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, nor is it affiliated with Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
The monument is owned and maintained by the Mt. Zion Monument Association, and it has been since its installation in 1909, when they installed it beside the church property.
The Church has no authority to remove the monument.
In light of the recent events surrounding the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, and the many Black women, men and children before him, we’re seeing a moment of reckoning across the country.
As United Methodists, we believe that in baptism, we are commissioned to resist injustice. Our founder John Wesley’s first rule encourages us to do no harm. Today, we are seeing very clearly the harm inflicted on Black people in our communities as a result of the long heritage of racism and white supremacy that pervade our society, as it has from our country’s founding. Policies are changing, and confederate monuments similar to this one are coming down around the country. We call on the Mt. Zion Monument Association to consider the harm their monument causes to our Black brothers and sisters. We ask them to listen to all the voices in our community, particularly the Black community of Cornelius, as they consider what to do with their monument. We stand ready to assist them as they go about the hard process of listening to their neighbors.
Please join us in praying for the peace and well-being of our community.
Sue Rankin-White, a member of Unity in Community and a member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, spoke to WBTV in a Zoom interview Monday night. She explained why she wants the statue to be removed.
"It keeps us from being able to issue an invitation to black members of our community without making an explanation about the statue and why it's there,” said Rankin-White.
Pam Jones, another member of the group, also thinks the monument needs to come down.
"A lot of people, both in the church and outside of the church, view this as history, but I guess my question to them is, 'is that a history that you really want to remember?'," said Davis.
WBTV reached out to the Mt. Zion Monument Association for comment on this story. They sent the following message about the monument:
The Mt. Zion Monumental Association has been charged with the preservation and upkeep of one of the most significant pieces of history in North Mecklenburg. A memorial to fallen solders that died defending their state and country. This memorial is most likely the only one in the state of North Carolina and possibly the Southeast that was funded and dedicated by fellow North Carolina soldiers in the early 1900s. In today’s politically charged climate, many people do not view this memorial as a significant and valuable piece of history. Due to this climate the association is exploring all options available to protect