On March 1, 2017, two Des Moines clergy were stationed at the corner of MLK Parkway and Cottage Grove offering ashes to celebrate Ash Wednesday to drivers stopped at the busy intersection. With great big smiles and a dish of ashes, Rev. Jennifer Hibben from thrive United Methodist Church and Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz from Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church walked between cars during the morning commute.
“Ashes: We R More Alike Than Different. #Ashesforall” read the cardboard sign Rev. Hibben held as she walked down the row of cars waiting for the light to change. “We have this down to a science,” she said. Last year they walked over 10,000 steps in the few hours they were out there.
#AshesforAll is a collaboration of ecumenical faith leaders who have come together to find a new way to celebrate Ash Wednesday in and with the local community. Groups of clergy from local churches will be stationed at different locations around the city to offer ashes. Over the lunch hour, they will be in the downtown Des Moines skywalks as well as The Blazing Saddle, a gay bar in the Des Moines East Village, where they will be offering purple glitter ashes. In the afternoon, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., they will return to The Blazing Saddle and be at Caribou Coffee on Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines.
Ash Wednesday is a Christian tradition that begins the 40-day period of preparing for Easter. The imposition of ashes on the forehead serves as a reminder of those who are suffering throughout the world, of our own mistakes, need of forgiveness and change, and God’s response of love, acceptance and forgiveness and the depth of our connection as human beings. It provides people with an opportunity for deep reflection and hope for the future. For more information about participating churches visit their website: ashesforall.org