The community of St Nicholas Episcopal Church will participate in “Ashes To Go” again this year. At last report, Fr.Manny Borg plans to be at the Cary Metro Station for the morning commute on Ash Wednesday, February 22. Last year, Father Manny was able to sign up for the program at the last minute, though he was not able to go to the nearest train station to Elk Grove Village (the station in Itasca). This year, he was able to secure a “spot” at his home Metro station. It will be interesting to hear the stories he brings back.
“Ashes To Go” in Illinois is being coordinated by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, offering a small moment of peace and introspection at the beginning of Lent to busy commuters who might not take time for the ancient rite of contrition. It was first offered by 3 area congregations 2 years ago, following on from the original “Ashes To Go” program in St Louis.
The Diocese of Chicago will once again offer Ashes to Go, the exceedingly popular, and at least slightly controversial initiative in which congregations take to the streets and subway stations on Ash Wednesday to offer ashes to passers-by.
This initiative has had a profound effect on the way the bishop and some clergy in Chicago view their ministry. Bishop Jeff Lee frequently tells the story of a woman, who, upon receiving ashes from him on a street corner outside of the diocesan offices said that she never imagined that “the church would come out here to us.” Her response, he suggests, is a kind of charge. The mission of the church is to bring what happens inside its walls out into the streets.
This year, we’ve heard reports that Ashes to Go will be on offer in St. Louis, where it seems the initiative got started, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York.
But Chicago, where some 25 congregations participated in Ashes to Go last year, is the center of the movement at the moment.
Ashes To Go has a simple yet tasteful website (they’re using the same template we are):
“Ashes to Go” is about bringing spirit, belief, and belonging out from behind church doors, and into the places where we go every day. It’s a simple event with deep meaning, drawing on centuries of tradition and worship to provide a contemporary moment of grace.
For one story of how Ashes To Go touched people, literally, in the streets, click here.
Links: The Lead