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Historic Virginia church decided to remove plaques honoring Washington and Lee

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A historic church in Alexandria, Virginia where both George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee worshiped is removing plaques honoring the two men.

A letter from leaders of the Christ Church was sent to congregation members Thursday explaining the decision was made because the plaques are a distraction and "may create an obstacle to our identity as a welcoming church.”

Rev. Noelle York-Simmons told the Washington Post leaders of the church had been discussing removing the plaques for years, but the decision became more urgent after the August rally in Charlottesville surrounding a statue of Robert E. Lee turned deadly.

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“People responded beautifully and faithfully, listening in a lot of ways that showed our church at its best,” York-Simmons told the Post about the discussions.

Washington and Lee were regular worshipers at the church and the plaques have hung on each side of the altar since 1870.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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