Fencing around St. John’s Church in DC removed

By ENS staff
Posted Mar 3, 2021

[Episcopal News Service] The security fencing around St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., across from the White House, that was erected last summer after repeated acts of vandalism, has been removed.

The Rev. Robert Fisher, rector, announced the news in a parish email on March 1. The parish had accepted the city’s offer to put up fencing around the property in June after the historic church was tagged with graffiti and damaged by fire during the protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd.

“While the fencing did provide a measure of security, I have never grown used to seeing a fence around St. John’s,” Fisher wrote, adding that the church is working with an architectural firm to “enhance safety while also making the physical presence of St. John’s reflect a spirit of welcome and service.”

“As the fence comes down, we will be thinking of ways to both attend to the security of the church’s campus in thoughtful ways while also making our space even more useful and inviting,” Fisher wrote.

“It is a great day for St. John’s and for the District to have the fencing come down around the church,” Washington Bishop Mariann Budde wrote in a statement to local news outlet DCist. “St. John’s is a vibrant city church, deeply committed racial equity and peaceful civic engagement for the common good. There is no fence around our hearts, and we are relieved to have the physical barriers removed at last.”

The timing and reason for the fence’s removal, and which government agency did it, was not immediately clear, DCist reported.

Fisher said the plywood boards covering the church’s stained glass windows, featuring faith- and justice-themed murals by local artists, will soon be removed as well, and many will be donated to the Smithsonian.