Representatives of Canterbury MSU, All Saints Episcopal Church and Edgewood United Church gathered at Wells Hall on Wednesday to offer glitter ashes to Michigan State students and faculty for Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday annually marks the beginning of Lent and spreading ashes on skin servews as a reminder of mortality and the dust from which individuals were born.
With Christian churches often turning away members of the LGBTQ community, they hoped to spread a new message of acceptance in faith.
“Being a Christian doesn’t have to mean being hateful, and for people who have been marginalized or oppressed, perhaps the message that you are dust is not the most spiritually helpful,” said Rev. Donna McNiel of All Saints Epscopal Church. “For people who have spent much of their life being told that they’re dust and not worthy, being reminded and told that they are loved and are worthy of love and are a gift to all of us is perhaps a better, more spiritual, more helpful message.”
Glitter is a symbol of LGBTQ pride, and celebrating “Glitter Ash Wednesday” is a way to proclaim that, McNiel said.
In a twist of the proclamation “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” associated with the spreading of ashes, McNiel said the group chooses to focus on love.
“We are saying as we mark people, ‘remember that you are loved and to love you shall return,” McNiel said.
From 2 to 3 p.m. the representatives offered their ashes to anyone walking by.
Sara Miller, a librarian at MSU, stopped on her way through the building to be welcomed with ashes of her own.
“I think it’s really important to support and include the LGBTQ community in communities of faith,” Miller said.
Reverend Liz Miller of Edgewood United Church said the ultimate goal is to bring the church to people who may not feel welcomed and to use glitter as a symbol to say things have changed.
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe a lot or you believe a little, but it’s okay to participate and to try things and it’s important to find places where you’ll be radically welcomed and loved, just as you are,” Rev. Miller said.