NEW YORK – For the second year, pro-LGBTQ Christians across the country will “come out” on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14) as part of #GlitterAshWednesday, announced today by the Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity, lead organizer of the initiative.
“Last year Glitter Ash Wednesday had an effect far beyond what we had dreamed, with more than 200 churches and communities in 29 states, the United Kingdom and Canada taking part,” said the Rev. Edmonds-Allen. “We were amazed by the number of people who relished the opportunity to come out as LGBTQ and Christian, and by the scores of churches that wanted to share their love for those who far too often are told that God doesn’t love them because of who they are or who they love.”
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. In addition to offering the traditional ashes, participants in #GlitterAshWednesday offer ashes mixed with purple glitter, combining a symbol of repentance with a message of solidarity.
The Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman, the Episcopal priest and author who conceived Glitter+Ash 2017, said, “Ashes are a bold, public statement that death and suffering are real. Glitter is a queer sign of hope and of our promise not to despair even in difficult times.”
Parity has made available a range of resources, including church and street liturgies, theological talking points and a how-to on making glitter ashes, for faith communities interested in participating in #GlitterAshWednesday. These resources are available without charge at nyc/glitter-ash-wednesday-2018.
Rev. Edman also has prepared a Lenten study guide for her book, Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity. The guide can be found at queervirtue.com.
“Glitter ashes are important, because much of our sin is based in fear, and all too often we project that fear onto the other,” said the Rev. Sarah Buteux, pastor of First Churches of Northampton, Massachusetts, who added the option of glitter ashes to her church’s Ash Wednesday observance last year. “These ashes are a reminder to see the spark of divinity in everyone’s frail humanity.”
“As a pastor who’s been in the struggle for how to do church in a new way, how to bring the good news to people outside our doors, Glitter+Ash is a godsend,” said the Rev. Fred Kinsey, pastor of Unity Lutheran Church, Chicago. “Offering glitter ashes to-go last year was so rewarding, I can’t wait to pass on the message of a cruciform, shimmering hope to those who are hungry for this emerging new spirituality.”
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 education and advocacy programs for adults and youth, and supports a community of new and prospective LGBTQ pastors as they live into their call to ministry.
Photo cutline: The Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity, with the Rev. Elizabeth Edman at the Stonewall National Monument, New York City, Ash Wednesday 2017. Photo by Cathy Renna.