Local churches get creative for Ash Wednesday

Samantha Boring
Created: February 17, 2021 07:17 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - Christians around the world will celebrate Ash Wednesday, it's the first day of the Lent season, and like a lot of other traditions, changes are being made because of COVID-19. 
Normally many people would go to Ash Wednesday service and receive ashes on their forehead, but due to the pandemic, some local churches are using their creativity to keep services going. 

"We decided not to do the imposition of ashes," said Reverend Laura Nordstrom, who came to Stewartville United Methodist Church in July. 

She said it has been harder to build relationships at her new church because of COVID-19, but she's still keeping the tradition of Ash Wednesday alive, just a little bit differently for this year. 

"Anybody who comes to worship will be going home with a little piece of burlap and a cross," said Nordstrom. 
In Byron, Pastor Steve Rheingans at Christ Lutheran Church is preparing for Ash Wednesday service as well. 

They are holding a drive-thru service, online and in person. 

Traditionally, pastors dip their thumb in an ash mix and make a sign of the cross on the forehead, but this year, Pastor Rheingans found an alternative that stuck. 

Rheingans said, "It's a gray sticker with a cross on it, the gray is pretend ashes and the cross is what we do the sign of."
While people are still facing hardships, these church leaders want to give people hope for this Lent season. 

Nordstrom said, "Our theme for lent is that we are broken vessels and that we are in need of healing, and so we are using that visual that theme especially this lent to say we are in need of healing." 

They want to keep going no matter what gets in the way. 

"The mission goes on, God's love goes on whether it's a pandemic or not. 

And the mission that he's called us to continues even if it's done in different ways," said Rheingans. 
Stewartville United Methodist Church will be holding their Ash Wednesday service starting at 6:30 pm in person and online. 
Christ Lutheran Church in Byron is holding a drive-thru service on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in-person and online service starting at 6:30 p.m. 
If you are short on time, Calvary Episcopal Chruch in Downtown Rochester will be holding an 'Ashes to go' service in front of the church. 

Reverend Beth Royalty will be on 2nd Street in front of the church from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. offering ashes and prayers to anyone that wants them. 

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