MOUNT VERNON (AP) The Mount Vernon Ministerial Association members are offering a modern-day twist on an old tradition.
Today, churches across much of Christendom will be open for special observances associated with Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent.
"A lot but not all churches include the placing of ashes on the foreheads of their members," the Rev. Cynthia Priem, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Mount Vernon, Ind., told the Evansville Courier & Press.
This year, however, the Mount Vernon Ministerial Association decided to try something new, Priem said. New, at least, to the Tri-State.
"Ashes to Go" will afford people unable or unaccustomed to going to church an opportunity to participate in this ancient ritual by offering locations outside of religious institutions where individuals can, figuratively speaking, receive ashes in a nonreligious, drive-thru setting.
Mount Vernon's churches will still be open, as always, Priem said.
"Ashes to Go is being offered in addition to that for people who cannot get to church because of their work schedules (or other time constraints)," she said.
"We will offer a brief prayer a prayer of repentance to everyone. Belonging to a church is not required," Priem said. "And then we will place ashes on their foreheads and give them a printed prayer card (the process) shouldn't take even a minute," she said.
Three venues in Mount Vernon will offer Ashes to Go: McKim's IGA, the Ministerial Association Food Bank at Hedges Central and the parking lot behind First Fidelity Bank.
The First Fidelity location will offer drive-thru service. There's no need to get out of the car.
Ashes to Go is not the brainchild of the Mount Vernon clergy association, said the Rev. Allen Rutherford, pastor at St. John's Episcopal Church there.