As part of the nationwide Ashes to Go 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 and seek forgiveness and renewal, ashes will be offered at over 25 locations around the state of New Jersey.
On Ash Wednesday, March 1, locations from the Trenton Transit Center and the Haddonfield Patco Station, to a drive-thru set up at St. Peter’s, Spotswood during the morning commute will present this new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition. Canterbury House on the College Ave Campus of Rutgers, New Brunswick will be open from 8am-6pm for the imposition of ashes, and several nursing homes and hospitals in South Jersey will be visited throughout the day.
“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,” says the Rev. Emily Mellott, a founder of the movement and priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Moorestown, NJ. “As people get busier, we need the church in new and non-traditional ways. We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives. 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 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 face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness.
“Ashes to Go presents a great opportunity to meet people where they are, just as Jesus met people where they were in his time and place,” says the Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, Bishop of the Diocese. “Hopefully those whom we encounter will take the card we give them, perhaps say the prayers on the card, and even consider entering into a ‘holy Lent.’ They might decide to see what is going on at a local Episcopal or other church, or they may not. I will be at the Trenton Transit Center again this year, imposing ashes as a reminder to all who pass by that Ash Wednesday and Lent are about God’s mercy and love for all human beings and an invitation to enter more deeply into God’s love in Jesus Christ.”
The Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Dunellen, Lyons, Metuchen, New Brunswick, PLainfield, Perth Amboy, and Trenton Train Stations, Hinds Plaza/Princeton Public Library, the South Brunswick 8A Park and Ride, numerous PATCO stations, several South Jersey hospitals and care facilities, and church parking lots around the diocese.
For a complete list of locations, visit www.dioceseofnj.org/ashestogo.
Contact Allie Graham, firstname.lastname@example.org 609.394.5281 ext 35 for more information about Ashes to Go in New Jersey. More information about the Ashes to Go movement can be found at www.AshesToGo.org. The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey comprises 146 congregations in the lower two-thirds of the state and can be found at www.dioceseofnj.org.