'Glitter' Ash Wednesday: Chicago area churches show LGBTQ support

CHICAGO (FOX 32) - Several churches throughout the Chicago area are planning to show their support for the LGBTQ community by providing ashes mixed with glitter on Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday – the tradition of marking the sign of the cross with ashes on foreheads marks the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. The event falls on March 1st this year.

Several Chicago area churches this year plan to mix a purple glitter with the ashes to show a sign of support for the LGBTQ community. The “Glitter Ash Wednesday” initiative was created by the New York faith-based organization “Parity”. The organization focuses on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Parity’s goal is to combine the message of solidarity and support with the traditional symbol of lent – repentance.

Some of the participating churches in the Chicago area include Unity Lutheran Church in Edgewater, Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Brookfield, and Berry United Methodist Church in Lincoln Square.

“I think it’s really important for the church to respond to the intolerance and culture of fear that is being created especially toward LGBTQ people” said April Gutierrez, Berry United Methodist Pastor. “We want to make sure the Christian message is one of love and inclusivity”.

Some local religious leaders however, don’t agree with the glitter addition.

Reverend Donald Senior, president emeritus of the Catholic Theological Union stated “If you start changing its meaning, some are going to feel this is a political statement. Ash Wednesday is a long, long, long tradition, and the use of the ashes is a religious ritual. I think it should be dealt with a lot of respect.”

Rev. Senior also recognized that the intent of glitter ash isn’t necessarily inappropriate.

“From one point of view, a person – no matter what their secual orientation might be – they are human being and deserving of respect,” he stated. “So in one sense, recognizing that on this day to me is not offensive.”

For those who would like to receive glitter ashes, they will be distributed on Wednesday, March 1st in the following locations:

-Berry United Methodist Church 6:30pm

-CTA Brown Line Western Stop from 8am-10am

-CTA Red Line Berwyn stop at 7am

-Unity Lutheran Church 7:30pm

-Holy Covenant Church 7pm