"Ashes to Go" in downtown Rochester

Clergy members meet downtown to help with Ash Wednesday.

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 7:54 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Instead of grabbing a coffee to go on Wednesday, people heading to work in downtown Rochester can get an Ash Wednesday service to go. 

"Ash Wednesday is the day that starts the church season of Lent," Justin Chapman, Rector at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rochester, said. "We gather on this Wednesday to put ashes on our foreheads...as a reminder that we're mortal and God loves us despite anything that may be wrong."

Chapman is among a group of clergy from area churches participating in "Ashes to Go" this Ash Wednesday. The group will meet in downtown Rochester Wednesday morning with ashes to bless those who want to participate in the service. 

The new take on the traditional practice helps people who may be too busy still participate in the holy day. But Chapman said it also allows them to reach out to the community. 

"It allows us, I think, to outreach to people...who might not be inclined to step into a church but are still interested in experiencing God's grace," he said. 

Some criticize the on-the-go service saying it is a short-cut or what Chapman said is commonly referred to as "cheap grace," and he said he understands this criticism. 

"I think there's always a danger of that, but I think this has so many benefits it's worth doing anyway," he said. 

Chapman sees "Ashes to Go" as a way for the church to adapt to modern times. 

"It's the church adapting to a change circumstance," he said. "As people are less comfortable coming to church, it makes sense for us to step out into the world where people are and meet them in the midst of their lives to say God loves you and God cares about you, whoever you are, wherever you're from."

Clergy members will be blessing people downtown from 7am-8:30am. 

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