Ashes to Go returned to Greenfield

  • John Giniusz of Greenfield receives ashes to his forehead and a prayer from the Rev. Dr. Molly Scherm and the Rev. Ann Wood in front of the St. James Church in Greenfield on Ash Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • John Giniusz of Greenfield receives ashes to his forehead and a prayer from Julie Orvis, the Rev. Dr. Molly Scherm and the Rev. Ann Wood in front of the St. James Church in Greenfield on Ash Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/1/2017 4:15:47 PM

GREENFIELD — Late Wednesday morning, a group from Saint James Episcopal Church stood near the corner of Church and Federal streets, offering the imposition of ashes to any passersby who would like to receive them.

The church’s “Ashes to Go” initiative is a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition. By taking Ash Wednesday to the streets, Saint James joins a nationwide movement of clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passersby with ashes and invite them to repent and seek forgiveness and renewal.

“Christians have been, for many, many, many centuries, using ashes, which are a symbol of both penance and of mourning, on Ash Wednesday to remind ourselves that we are of the same dust of the Earth as the Earth itself, that we are finite, that we are limited, that life is precious and fragile,” said the Rev. Molly Scherm, priest-in-charge and St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Turners Falls.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting, moderation and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits in preparation for Easter.

Scherm and several other church members stood on the church’s front steps throughout the late morning and early afternoon Wednesday, marking the foreheads of people who stopped by and reciting a short prayer. Two other teams walked around downtown, offering the same service to others. 

This is the third year Saint James has offered “Ashes to Go.”

“The symbol of having ashes imposed is meaningful to many, many Christians, not all of whom have time to get to a service,” Scherm said. “Since the sign has been up, I think there are a number of people who made it their schedule for the day and receive ashes here. There are other people who were driving by and just stopped, and I feel like they have all been appreciative and there are other people who have just walked by, didn’t want to receive ashes, but said a friendly ‘good morning.’”


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