Activists offer Lenten sparkle

24 February 2017

CHRISTIANS campaigning for LGBTI equality in church are being invited to join a new campaign to wear “glitter-ash” on Ash Wednesday. The organisers, the New York campaign group Parity, describe the glitter-ash campaign “as an inherently queer sign of Christian belief”.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday ashes are made by burning the palm crosses used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. Parity is mixing professional make-up-grade purple glitter with traditional ashes to send out to congregations. The organisation will send glitter ashes at no cost — though a donation is suggested — to any congregation or individual that requests them.

So far, 70 congregations in the United States have signed up and ordered ashes. There has been a great deal of interest, too, from Anglican churches in the UK, although none has ordered the “Glitter+Ash” from Parity.

The executive director of Parity, the Revd Marian Edmonds Allen, said: “Ash Wednesday is a day when Christians are highly visible. 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.”

The Revd Elizabeth Edman, the author of Queer Virtue and a co-organiser, said: “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. 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.”

One of the first churches to sign up was the United Church of Christ, which has 500 churches around the US. Pastor Elly Mendez Angulo, runs the church’s Grace and Welcome project, which encourages prayer and dialogue about sexual orientation, said: “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. We intend to engage our primarily African descent, LGBT+ congregation with the surrounding Latinx community in pursuit of a shared witness.”

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