Ash Wednesday Drive-Thru at One Ohio Church

Despite a general decline in numbers of churchgoers across all religions, Catholic churches have seen rising attendance- and initiatives like the unique approach one parish is taking to Ash Wednesday might be a clue as to why parishioners are finding ways to flock back to the church in record numbers.

Many “relapsed Catholics” have a bit of apprehension about being out of touch with church traditions, or recall a time when the Catholic Church was a bit more draconian and intimidating, with the swinging of the incense and the Latin and the half-day-long mass jaunts. But in recent years, the Pope has urged priests to adopt social media as another way of speaking to the flock, and the church is making efforts to adapt old traditions to fit a connected and strapped for time world.

Ash Wednesday is upon us, the less talked about and conversely somber foil and precipitate for Mardi Gras celebrations. (For the uninitiated, Mardi Gras and its ilk in different countries/cultures is a kind of ‘last hurrah’ for eating and sinning before the fasting associated with Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Lenten season.) But an Ohio Methodist church created an innovation of which many progressive Catholic churches probably are envious- a drive-thru ash dispensary for time-strapped parishioners.

The Rev. Patricia Anderson Cook of Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church told press that the unorthodox ash ceremony will begin at around 5PM in the church’s parking lot, and that the initiative was aimed at those who are busy or “get a little intimidated walking into a church.” Would you drive-through for ashes on Ash Wednesday if the service was available at your church?

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