Drive-thru Ash Wednesday: How a local church tailored tradition to the pandemic

Local News
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — With a prayer and a smudge of symbolic ash on one’s forehead, the Christian season of lent has arrived—but not the way it has in the past.

Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church tailored holy tradition to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines.

Member of the Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church congregation, Rob Coleman, receives his ash in the drive-thru line.

“Because of COVID, were not imposing the ashes onto people’s foreheads,” Pastor at VHUMC, SHerry Harris said. “But we have these little bottles with ashes. We tell them how they can mix them with oil and then impose them themselves.”

To prevent any further spread of COVID-19, Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church offered their congregation a drive-thru experience.

“Being in a pinch with the pandemic and everything else, it’s a great option,” Rasie Miller, a member of the VHUMC congregation said. “I’m very grateful that our church is flexible enough to give options to the people who don’t feel comfortable coming to the traditional service”

VHUMC staff was adamant about safety protocol and sanitation during the event.

Part of Ash Wednesday and the season of lent is giving something up or taking something on, to reflect on and strengthen ones relationship with God. So what are these drive-thru praisers doing?

“I gave up a lot of things,” Rob Miller, another member of the VHUMC congregation said. “I gave up fried food, I gave up alcohol, I gave up sweet tea – and that’s it.”

VHUMC staff gave out small bottles of ash for recipients to use, for the ritual, at home

Pandemic or not, worshippers found a way to carry on tradition in 2021.


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