Attendees at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hays and students in the church’s ministry at Fort Hays State University will have two choices for the ashes that symbolize repentance on Ash Wednesday.
They can choose the traditional black ash, usually made from burned palm fronds, or a second option: ashes mixed with purple glitter.
“Glitter within the LGBT, the queer community, is a sign of life and celebration,” said the Rev. Marie Sager, pastor of Trinity Lutheran. “It is kind of that visible statement that you are valued, you are welcome.”
Glitter Ash Wednesday is part of a movement launched this year by New York-based organizations Parity and Queer Virtue. The groups have encouraged churches across the country to use glitter ash on Wednesday to show a Christian is LGBT or an LGBT supporter.
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Churches across the country have ordered the glitter ash. Trinity appeared to be the only church in Kansas offering it, according to Parity’s database as of Feb. 22.
Sager said the glitter ash will blend “penance and hope,” particularly for people who have been rejected by the church.
Trinity is considering becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation, a Lutheran designation for communities that publicly welcome LGBT people with an official statement.
Some reasons for choosing to do glitter ash are to raise awareness for the LGBT community and to show that there are Christians who are accepting and welcoming of LGBT people, Sager said.
Its college ministry “Us 4 U,” held in conjunction with St. John Lutheran Church in Russell, already has a welcome statement that includes LGBT people.
The Rev. Liz Edman, an openly lesbian priest in the Episcopal Church and author of “Queer Virtue,” said the idea for Glitter Ash Wednesday developed last year when she noticed Christians walking around, smudges of ash on their foreheads.
“How could we walk around being visibly queer and visibly Christian, or visibly progressive and visibly Christian?” she wondered.
Later, her girlfriend suggested glitter ashes, Edman said.
Sager pointed to wording on Queer Virtue and Parity’s websites as a reason for why she believes the “hope” of glitter and the solemnity of ash are not contradictory.
“Ashes are an in-your-face statement that death and suffering are real,” the websites state. “The glitter will be a sign of our hope, which does not despair. The glitter will signal our promise to repent, to show up, to witness, to work. Glitter never gives up — and neither do we.”