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Drive-thru ashes make penance more accessible

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BATON ROUGE – The party is over and the Lenten season has begun with prayer, penance, and the distribution of ashes, but not everyone walked inside a church this Ash Wednesday. Some received a cross on their forehead without leaving their car.

“We wanted to make this available to everyone,” said Pastor Heather Sullivan at Magnolia United Methodist Church.

For the past two years, Sullivan has held a ‘drive-thru ashes’ service.

“Ash Wednesday is not a holiday for most people. I know my kids went back to school today, people had to work and it’s a school night so not everyone has time to go to a service this evening,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan didn't want the business of everyday life to get in the way of people receiving a blessing, especially during a time devoted to sacrifice and serving others.

“A lot of people say that it’s so convenient that they can do this practice that is so important to them that works within this schedule, and they're actually able to do it this year,” said Sullivan.

In less than five minutes, people were able to drive up to the side of the church off of Greenwell Springs Rd., roll down their window, say a prayer and receive their ashes. At least 50 people took advantage of this during a two-hour window.

“This is just a time when we prepare for our journey to the cross. Ultimately that leads to the empty tomb but we can't forget about the suffering that Jesus went through, so we take this time to remember that,” said Sullivan.

St. Andrew's, St. Mark, St. John's and Meadows Chapel UMC also provided drive-thu ashes Wednesday morning.

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