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A New York-based Presbyterian LGBTQ advocacy group is adding a twist of glitter to this year’s Lenten observations. The Religion News Service reports:

A New York-based advocacy group called Parity is asking Christians who favor LGBT equality  — “queer positive Christians,” in their parlance — to show their support by wearing “glitter ash” on their foreheads to mark Ash Wednesday (March 1). …

“This is a way for queer Christians and queer-positive persons of faith to say ‘We are here,’” said Marian Edmonds-Allen, Parity’s executive director. “It is also a way for other people to be a witness to that and be in solidarity with them.” …

“For some traditions, it is true” that Christians are not supposed to draw attention to their piety, Edmonds-Allen said. “The ashes go on and the ashes go off — it is a private thing. But glitter ashes are still appropriate. It is a recognition of the reality of queer Christians in the world and the beauty LGBTQ Christians bring to faith.”

According to its website, Parity was originally formed as Presbyterian Welcome to advocate for ordination equality within PCUSA. Since the denomination’s policies changed to welcome people of differing sexual and gender identities into ordained ministry, the group’s mission has evolved into supporting inclusion and disseminating inclusive theology, especially among young people, letting them know that, “God made you. You matter. There are no barriers between you, God, and the whole, full life you are called to live.”

Their Glitter Ash Wednesday page has this to say about the Lenten initiative:

Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how we have displayed our gritty, scandalous hope. We make ourselves fabulously conspicuous, giving offense to the arbiters of respectability that allow coercive power to flourish.

Glitter+Ash is an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a season of repentance. During Lent, Christians look inward and take account in order to move forward with greater health. At this moment in history, glitter ashes will be a powerful reminder of St. Augustine’s teaching that we cannot despair because despair paralyzes, thwarting repentance and impeding the change that we are called to make.

Glitter+Ash exquisitely captures the relationship between death and new life. We do not live in fear of ash – of death – we place it on our foreheads for the world to see.

Read more at the Religion News Service, and at ParityNYC/Glitter Ash Wednesday. Is your local church participating in #GlitterAshWednesday?

Image courtesy of ParityNYC


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Thom Forde

This is a bridge (or a few) too far. But the article is clear this is a Presbyterian group, not Episcopalian. Having thoroughly jettisoned tradition long ago it is not surprising that attempts to reclaim things lost would be accompanied by revisions.

David Allen

Christians of all brands and vareties have been adding gingerbread to the liturgies, symbols and sacramental actions of the Church for the past 2000 years. It certainly isn’t relegated to just the Reformed.

Br. Cullin R. Schooley

I’m a gay man and even I think this goes a bit to far and is in poor taste. There are better ways of being advocates.

David Allen

Seems a little flashy for a penetential season, no?

Folks already think we are strange if we leave it on all day.

But at least they might not mistake it for a dirty forehead and reach up to rub it clean for you.

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