‘Ashes to go’ hotspots
A liturgical practice of ashing people on the streets on Ash Wednesday has spread from America to Britain. One pioneer of this form of outreach is Sara Miles, a lay pastoral minister at St Gregor y of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Sara, who also runs a food bank at the church, started going on the streets to ash people in 2010 and has written about the custom in City of God. In Chicago the practice is known as ‘Ashes to go’ and under this label it has spread to parishes in London. One parish in Camden Hill started to do it two years ago, offering the imposition of ashes and a moment of prayer to people on the streets. Family pastor Margaret Pritchard Houston set the project up. This year the idea was taken up by other parishes, termed ‘Ashes to go hotspots’ by the Diocese of London. Christ the Saviour in Ealing Broadway have tweeted that they have ashed over 1,000 people either at ser vices or outside in the street. St George’s in Notting Hill Gate was another church offering ashes to go. For Sara Miles religion is not so much about doctrine or right behaviour as about hunger and desire for life. In Take this bread she told how the Eucharist met her spiritual hunger and led her to feed the hungry people of San Francisco. In offering ash on the streets she sees the church meeting a need for forgiveness and rebirth through a reminder of death.