The church was brought to the people on Ash Wednesday by four United Methodist clergy. In their white albs they headed out through the Des Moines Skywalk system, at noon, to offer pray and the imposition of ashes.
“The Holy Spirit seems to be moving us here today,” Rev. Martha Ward observed, thinking about what some called “ashes to go.” “It was similar to what John Wesley did when he got outside the church,” Rev. Bob Ward noted, adding “it feels right in our tradition.”
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with the Skywalk clergy
But why do it? Why be in the Skywalk, in vestments, with ashes?
“I think it’s good to remind people that everybody’s walking around,” Rev. Jeremy Poland said. “They’re carrying their own burdens, frustrations, and stresses and [it’s good] to be reminded that ‘this too shall pass.’ Life is precious. Every day is precious.” He sees the mission of being in the Skywalk is “to be a sign of Good News and to offer some encouragement.”
Reverends Martha and Bob Ward and Jeremy Poland were joined by clergy colleague Rev. Jon Bailey to be the ministry team. “It’s a new thing,” moving out
into the City as a team “of clergy from different churches who’ve gotten together in a concerted effort,” they believed. They’re following a model from United Methodist faith communities in other areas “who’ve brought ashes to the streets, wherever they encounter people.”
It takes courage to be in the Skywalk, in clergy robes, with ashes and a prayer card that speaks about personal confession and the need for forgiveness.
Rev. Martha Ward hoped that conversations with clergy and receiving the mark of the ashes will, for some, “start a conversation in their offices this afternoon.” Rev. Bob Ward acknowledged “it’s a step for a person to leave work, go to lunch, and then come back looking different – with a cross on their forehead, something that makes a significant statement.”
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