Ash Wednesday on the fly: Prairie Village churches offer drive-thru service

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - In, out and on your way in 90 seconds. That's the motto for two Ash Wednesday services in Prairie Village.

Colonial UCC, 7039 Mission Road, and Asbury United Methodist, 75th and Nall, will be giving an offering of ashes in the driveway outside both churches. Pastors at Asbury and Colonial UCC say with parishioners' busy schedules, they believe they can attract more attendees.

"We thought this would be something to help people be able to have the experience and observe Ash Wednesday but make it fit into their lives too", explained Pastor Aaron Roberts of Colonial UCC.

Roberts says while some church members were disappointed to give up the traditional service, others found the new idea enticing.

"A lot of our folks were like wow that's an interesting idea and honestly until tomorrow morning I have no idea what the response will truly be," Roberts said with a chuckle.

Colonial UCC Church will offer an "Ash Wednesday Drive-Thru" in the circle drive in front of the church from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., but Pastor Roberts says he will extend that time on the fly if there is a demand for it.

Asbury United Methodist will hold their drive-thru service from 7 to 9 a.m.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting before Easter. At Colonial, Rev. Roberts will draw the cross of ashes on the forehead - the sign of mourning and repentance. Tradition calls for keeping the ashes on your forehead until they wear off on their own as a sign of faith.

The ashes used at Colonial come from the burning of last year's palm fronds waved during Palm Sunday services. This is the first year for the drive-by, replacing the Ash Wednesday service that had traditionally been done in the evening. "People are so busy, we decided to make it simplified", Rev. Roberts said.

Drivers taking advantage of the event can enter the circle drive from Mission Road where the entrance will be marked by a banner.

At Asbury, Rev. Gayla Rapp said, "the drive-through Ash Wednesday service is our way of providing every opportunity we can for people to experience the beginning of this most holy season in the church."

At Asbury, drivers should enter the church parking lot from the west entrance nearest Nall.

Asbury will also have more traditional services at noon in the chapel and 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

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