Pro-LGBTQ Christians across the country will “come out” on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017, as part of #GlitterAshWednesday, announced Thursday by Rev. Marian Edmonds Allen, executive director of Parity, one of the lead organizers of the new initiative.
“Ash Wednesday is a day when Christians are highly visible,” Rev. Edmonds Allen said. “Glitter Ash Wednesday will demonstrate that LGBTQ Christians and our allies are passionate about our faith, and about seeking justice and wholeness for LGBTQ communities and other marginalized people.”
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day season of self-reflection and preparation for Easter. The imposition of ashes on the forehead, a traditional practice that “marks” believers with the sign of the cross, takes place in Christian churches and communities worldwide, as well as in parks, commuter rail stations and other public spaces.
Participants in #GlitterAshWednesday will receive ashes mixed with purple glitter, combining a traditional symbol of repentance with a message of solidarity.
“People are taking to the streets to give voice to their core values and beliefs, and progressive Christians must be visible participants in standing up for justice,” said Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman, author of the recently released book Queer Virtue and co-organizer of #GlitterAshWednesday. “Ashes are a bold public statement that death and suffering are real. The glitter will be a sign of hope and our promise not to despair in these difficult times.”
“Glitter Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to raise awareness and authentically create dialogue about the ways many marginalized communities have been hurt by the Church,” said Pastor Elly Mendez Angulo, leader of the United Church of Christ’s Encuentros de Gracia y Bienvenida and one of the first pastors to sign up for #GlitterAshWednesday. “We intend to engage our primarily African descent, LGBT+ congregation with the surrounding Latinx community in pursuit of a shared witness.”
Rev. Elder Rachelle Brown, global moderator of Metropolitan Community Church, said: “MCC is a proud partner with Parity in queering Ash Wednesday, through glitter ashes and any other way that LGBTQ+ people choose to be present and visible during the holy season of Lent. Glitter ashes represent a call to deeply consider long-held traditions and ways that we mark our bodies as present and visible. In this season, we will shimmer in the presence of our Creator.”
More information about #GlitterAshWednesday, including a list of participating sites, can be found at queervirtue.com/glitter-ash-
For Clergy and Churches
Offering glitter ashes will present an opportunity to breathe fresh life into your liturgy, recapture the surprise in the Christian message, and draw new people into your worship. There are many options for how you might do this:
- Offer a designated “Glitter+Ash” service on Ash Wednesday
- Have a designated station for glitter ashes at one of your regular Ash Wednesday services
- Incorporate glitter ashes into an “Ashes To Go” type liturgy
You can find suggestions for liturgical language and prayers that incorporate Glitter+Ash here.
Please note that Glitter+Ash has not been formally endorsed by any major denomination. Participating in this liturgical action may demand risk and require courage, as Christian witness is wont to do. May God be with you, and with us all.
For Individuals, ordained or not
If you don’t belong to a church or can’t find one that is offering ashes, you can organize your own Glitter+Ash event. Offering ashes is a simple act of penitence and worship that can be done by anyone – you don’t need to be ordained. You will need:
- Ashes that have been blessed, with Glitter – which you can get here.
- Instructions on how to impose ashes
- A handout with information about Ash Wednesday and Glitter+Ash to give to people
- A public place to offer glitter ashes, and a way to publicize it. We recommend joining forces with at least one or two other people to offer the ashes.
- Because Glitter+Ash has political as well as religious overtones, we also recommend being aware of possible negative reactions and creating a basic safety plan if you are going to be in a public space. You can find recommendations for safety planning here.
Parity is a faith-based organization that works to empower LGBTQ and allied people of faith as they explore the intersections of their spiritual, gender and sexual identities. Parity offers a range of education and advocacy programs for adults and youth, and supports new and prospective LGBTQ pastors as they live into their call to ministry.