Grace Episcopal to host Ash Wednesday services

In more ways than one, Ash Wednesday - celebrated March 1 this year - leaves a mark.

"If you go and look at the Glitter Ash promotional page that Parity put together, there is no mention of sin at all", Walton relays.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday's weather calls for likely rain before 1 p.m., and then snow showers, with a high in the lower 40s and gusty north-northwest winds, according to the National Weather Service's forecast for Grand Haven.

Parish priests say they get more people at church that day than nearly any other - excluding Christmas and Easter - and the congregations are usually much bigger than for Holy Thursday or Good Friday services.

"We want to make sure the Christian message is one of love and inclusivity, of empowering people to be who they are".

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But some religious leaders think Ash Wednesday should remain glitter-free.

Lent, which begins on Wednesday, commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert preparing for his ministry.

Reverend Donald Senior, president emeritus of the Catholic Theological Union stated "If you start changing its meaning, some are going to feel this is a political statement".

Rev. Senior also recognized that the intent of glitter ash isn't necessarily inappropriate. "So in one sense, recognizing that on this day to me is not offensive".

"We especially need reminders of forgiveness in the tough places of our working lives", he said. "It's that sign of hope that we don't despair even in hard times".

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