Ash Wednesday for Families

Ash Wednesday for Families

Use this simple liturgy to make Ash Wednesday accessible to people of all ages. 

We wanted to make Ash Wednesday, a day that in many places is observed largely by adults, more approachable for families, so I carefully adapted this service from the Book of Common Prayer, using clear, accessible language, and chose beautiful, simple music that can be taught in the moment. We receive the cross of ashes in the same place as the cross of oil we receive at baptism, for the same reason: to remind us that we were created in love, we belong to God, and we will return to God. 

Click here to download the service. Music is from Wonder, Love and Praise and the scripture reading comes from The Bible for Children, retold by Murray Watts. This service is freely shared, please note the original author when doing so.

In the decade since I first adapted the service, it’s been used widely across the Episcopal Church and in many Episcopal schools. My favorite memory is of the year two American Girl dolls left the service offered in a large, midtown Manhattan church with ashes on their foreheads! Even their “mothers” wanted to remind them that we belong to God.


Wendy Claire Barrie is the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Families  and is at work on her next book, about intergenerational ministry, The Church Post-Sunday School, coming in Spring 2021 from Church Publishing. She works and worships at Trinity Church Wall Street where she is responsible for Children and Family Faith Formation and Education.



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