EDGEWATER — Two North Side churches are going to colorful lengths to ensure all members of their congregations feel loved this Ash Wednesday.
Both Unity Lutheran Church in Edgewater and Berry United Methodist Church in Lincoln Square are taking part in the "Glitter Ash Wednesday" movement, a national campaign aimed at affirming LGBTQ Christians on one of religion's most sacred days, which marks the start of Lent.
The finely-ground glitter/ash mix comes from New York-based organization Parity, a resource for queer people of faith across the LGBTQ spectrum. The substance is made from makeup-grade purple glitter mixed with traditional ashes, which come from burned palm fronds.
The sparkling ash symbol is an "inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration," according to Parity.
The group says marking foreheads with it is a way for LGBTQ Christians to say, "We are here" as well as others to make a public statement supporting them.
The Rev. April Gutierrez, pastor of Berry United Methodist, 4752 N. Leavitt St., said her church had been looking for more ways to embrace its LGBTQ and queer church members, so it was an easy decision to take part in the glitter movement.
"We're very committed to being a radically inclusive church, and so it was an obvious 'yes,'" said Gutierrez. "I'm really committed to making sure the Lincoln Square community knows there [are] safe spaces for everyone ... to making sure that people feel loved."
On its website, Unity Lutheran, 1212 W. Balmoral Ave., wrote that like love, glitter was "irresistible and irrepressible."
Participants at the two churches will have the option of being blessed with traditional ashes or glitter ashes.
Unity Lutheran Pastor Fred Kinsley will be out at the Berwyn "L" station Wednesday morning from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and will again offer ash blessings at the 1212 W. Balmoral Ave. church's 7:30 p.m. evening service.
Gutierrez also will be out blessing commuters at the Western "L" Brown Line station from 8-10 a.m., followed by a 6:30 p.m. church service at its Leavitt Street location.