Ohio Church Offers Drive-Thru Ash Wednesday Service

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Walter Michot / Miami Herald / MCT via Getty Images

Liam Humbles, a first grader, receives a symbolic sign of the cross on his forehead at the Ash Wednesday school mass held at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Miami Shores, Florida.

One church in suburban Cincinnati must have lots of busy parishioners. So busy, in fact, that they can only make time for a drive-thru Ash Wednesday.

The Rev. Patricia Anderson Cook of Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church will offer the service, starting at 5 p.m., in the church’s parking lot. She tells the Associated Press she plans a “drive-thru, not a drive-by” mini-service that includes ashes, a church brochure and a Lenten booklet.

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Ash Wednesday, a tradition popular in Christianity and especially within liturgical denominations, occurs each year, 46 days before Easter, and marks the beginning of Lent, a period of fasting and prayer prior to Easter. The tradition commemorates the 40 days (the 46 days equals 40 if you take out the Sundays) Jesus spent fasting in the desert.

While it has turned common for people to give up a practice they enjoy during Lent, the day itself is meant to use ashes placed on the forehead as a sign of mourning and repentance to God.

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Cook simply wants to help people who might be intimidated by entering her church for a service to get in on the ritual, opening up shop in the parking lot. For those with a less busy schedule, however, the traditional in-church service starts at 7 p.m.