UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Too busy to stop in for an Ash Wednesday service? Some churches are offering drive-by ashes.
Clergy at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio, applied ash to the foreheads of anyone who stopped in the parking lot of the church for two hours Wednesday.
It’s the first time the church offered the drive-by service, said the Rev. Aaron Layne. The congregation supported it, he told The Columbus Dispatch although some comments on Facebook criticized him for cheapening the observance that marks the beginning of Lent for Christians.
Layne reasoned that it could be a first step back for some people who haven’t been to church in years.
Other churches have also taken more informal approaches to Ash Wednesday. The “Ashes to Go” movement began in 2007 with ashes given to some 100 passers-by outside a coffeehouse in Missouri, the Rev. Teresa K.M. Danieley of St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis wrote on the “Ashes to Go” website.
The practice has since spread, and the website lists quick ash distribution services in more than 30 states and in several countries.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ashtabula, Ohio, planned to offer ashes at a downtown park Wednesday, The Star-Beacon in Ashtabula reported Like Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church, the service would be a first for the northeast Ohio church.
Both churches also planned traditional evening services with ash distribution.