By February 24, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

“Drive-Through” Ash Wednesday Rite

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“Drive-Through” Ash Wednesday Rite

 Three years ago three churches in Chicago started what has become an “Ashes To Go” Movement in which Lenten ashes are distributed in venues other than the church. Traditional Ash Wednesday services with ash distribution are also held. Some states other than Illinois that have churches offering the “drive-through” option include Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.

Clergymen have taken the ceremony to people in parking lots, college campuses, shopping malls, and street corners. “It’s what Jesus said to do”, said Rev. Aaron Layne. “Jesus never waited for the people to come to Him. He went to the people.”

Typically, worshipers line up in cars or in person at the venue and wait for a clergyman to walk out and apply the cross of ashes to their foreheads before continuing on their way. “We smile, we say hello, thank them for coming, give them the imposition of ashes , say a prayer for them,” said Rev. Sherry Harris. At some venues a cup of coffee is also offered.

Gerald Smith, who has taught religious and cultural topics for almost 50 years at The University of the South (Tennessee), said “The world has changed; people are far less sit-down than before.” Busy commuters pull in for a brief moment of reflection, meditation and prayer. Many clergy see this Ecumenical Effort as  a possible first step back for many people who haven’t been to church in years.

Although there is some criticism that the religious observation is cheapened by Drive-Through Ashes, most feedback has been positive. Larry Essich, age 82, says “It’s different. Usually we go inside for the service but this is more convenient.”  Three elderly women said it would have been difficult for them to leave their car. Bishop Northcroft said the Drive-Through made it “possible


for them to get ashes because they were handicapped.”



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