Church takes Ash Wednesday to the Streets
On Ash Wednesday, February 13, St. Thomas Episcopal Church and The First Congregational Church of Bethel will be offering “Ashes to Go,” a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition, outside Molten Java, 213 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel from 6:30-9:00am.
The two congregations are part of a new nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal.
In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on the face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of human brokenness and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. Ashes to Go provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.
“Ashes to Go is about bringing the important traditions of our faith out from behind church walls and into the places we need them every day,” says the Rev. Emily Mellott, who maintains the website AshesToGo.org with resources and stories about this ministry. “As people get busier and busier, we need the church in new and non-traditional ways. We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives. The people who accept ashes on the street are often people longing to make a connection between their faith and the forces of daily life, and Ashes to Go helps them feel that connection.”
St. Thomas and First Congregational are offering Ashes to Go for the first time this year. The two parishes, along with the Bethel United Methodist Church, will also be coming together as a Christian community to share a simple soup supper and Lenten study Wednesday evenings beginning February 21. The study will be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 95 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel and will be led by the Rev. Bob Johnson.
More information about the Ashes to Go movement can be found at www.AshesToGo.org