In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow, 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 gone to church on Ash Wednesday to receive a cross of ashes on the face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness.
This Wednesday, the Episcopal Church is bringing Ash Wednesday to the streets with “Ashes to Go,” a movement to reach people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.
Congregations from the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey will participate in “Ashes to Go” at locations around the state.
The diocese’s participation in Ashes to Go is 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 passers-by with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing, seek forgiveness and renewal.
Clergy from throughout the diocese will be offering ashes at more than 18 locations. Bishop William (Chip) Stokes will be offering ashes and blessings from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. at the Trenton Transit Center in Trenton.
“The world in which we live is so rushed, alienating and dehumanizing that we often lose sight of God and of our own humanity,” Stokes said. “Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a time for taking stock of ourselves and our lives and, by God’s grace, reclaiming the sanctity and gift of the lives we have been given. Receive these ashes as a sign of your mortality, but also as a sign that you are loved by God and that God wants to be in relationship with you.”
Times (when available), locations and sponsoring churches in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey:
Trenton Transit Center, 6am-8am, Christo Rey, Trinity Cathedral, Diocesan House
West Trenton Train Station, 6:45am-8:15am, St. Luke’s Ewing
Hamilton Train Station, Grace St. Paul’s, Hamilton
Hinds Plaza in Princeton, 9-Noon, All Saint’s Princeton
Princeton Junction Train Station and Palmer Square, Trinity Princeton
South Brunswick Bus Depot, 6-8:30am, St. David’s and St. Barnabas
New Brunswick Train Station, 7am, St. Alban’s New Brunswick
Dunellen Train Station, St. Francis’, Dunellen
Drive-Thru Ashes at St. Peter’s Church, Spotswood, St. Peter’s Spotswood
Bernardsville Train Station, Bernardsville, 6-8am, St. John on the Mountain Bernardsville
Atlantic Highlands Ferry Slip, 5:45-6:30am, Highlands Ferry Slip, 6:45-7:30am, Atlantic Highlands Foodtown, 9-10am, All Saints’ Navesink
Perth Amboy Train Station, 6am-9am, St. Peter’s, Perth Amboy
Basking Ridge and Lyons Train Stations, 6am-8am, St. Mark’s, Basking Ridge
Church of the Holy Spirit in Tuckerton, 7-8am and noon-1pm, Church of the Holy Spirit
Meridian Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Facility, 2 pm, Holy Innocents Beach Haven
Point Pleasant Beach Train Station, 7:45-9am, St. Mary’s, Pt. Pleasant Beach
Keansburg Community Center, 11am, St. Mark’s Keansburg
Salem County Courthouse, 11-11:45am, St. John’s Salem
Founded in 1785, the Diocese of New Jersey ranks sixth in size out of 100 dioceses in the United States, with 150 congregations within its borders. Currently three retired bishops, 293 priests, and 74 deacons serve in the diocese.