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Ash and Dash: Drive-thru church service offers ashes on the go

Millions of Christians throughout the world will fill church pews in observance of Ash Wednesday. The day marks the beginning of the time of fasting and repentance 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays.)

Around St. Louis, and elsewhere many churches will observe this first day of church season of Lent with a modern twist.

Manchester United Methodist Church in west St. Louis County is calling it Ash and Dash.

Instead of attending a formal worship service, commuters will be able to receiving a prayer, and ashes on their forehead or hand, all while sitting in their car. The church's pastors have set up a drive-thru location in a parking lot at 14380 Manchester Road.

The Rev. Jim Peich encourages motorists to stop at "Ash and Dash." Feb. 14, 2018
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The Rev. Jim Peich encourages motorists to stop at "Ash and Dash" on Wednesday afternoon.

Jim Peich, the church's pastor of faith formation, said this on-the-go approach to Ash Wednesday is a simple way to meet people where they are.

“We know that for some people, just stepping into a church building is difficult,” Peich said. “So we want to meet people where they feel comfortable, and if that’s in their car along Manchester Road, then we’re happy to connect and meet with them there.”

While the church will also have have an Ash Wednesday service, Peich said the point of Ash and Dash is not to get away from tradition, but rather to make it more accessible to people that want to participate.

“Several of them have multiple jobs, and so they have a conflict at that time or some even have piano lessons or activities with the kids that prevent them from coming and so, this is a chance for them to have that experience and experience God’s love and be able to still go about the things that they need to get done that day,” Peich said.

This is the first time Manchester United has held Ash and Dash. It will be held from 7-9 a.m., 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., and 4-6 p.m. at 14380 Manchester Road. A traditional Ash Wednesday service will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the church at 129 Woods Mill Road.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter:@Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.