Clergy from the three downtown Bridgeport churches (the Rev. Walter C. Barton of Golden Hill United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Hahneman of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Rev. Sara D. Smith of United Congregational Church), each vested according to their own tradition, offered “Ashes to Go,” a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition, today, Ash Wednesday, at the Bridgeport Train Station
These churches are part of a new nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passersby with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal.
In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on the forehead at the beginning of that season as a reminder of our mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. Ashes to Go provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.
“Ashes to Go is about bringing the important traditions of our faith out from behind church walls and into the places we need them every day,” Hahneman said. “As people get busier and busier, we need the church to operate in new and non-traditional ways. We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives and city life. The people who accept ashes on the street are often people longing to make a connection between their faith and the forces of daily life, and Ashes to Go helps them feel that connection.”
In Bridgeport, the vested clergy are offering Ashes to Go for the first time this year, and are doing so jointly to also mark how Christians need to work together to meet the needs of our community.