Wichita church offers 'ashes on the go' on first day of Lent

Published On: Mar 05 2014 01:36:11 PM CST   Updated On: Mar 05 2014 05:16:56 PM CST

Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent, or Ash Wednesday, for many in the Christian faith.
Although it's common practice for many believers to visit a church or a mass service to receive ashes, Reverend Catherine Neelly Burton, Senior Pastor for Grace Presbyterian Church in Wichita, spent Wednesday morning offering ashes at a local café.

It's called Ashes on the Go and anyone, church members or non-members, could show up, pray with the reverend and then receive the ash mark of the cross on their forehead.

"It really is a succinct, on-the-go kind of thing," said Pastor Neelly Burton. "It also gives folks a chance to make a public witness without having to say a whole lot, they have their ashes."

The ash mark often draws attention to those who have received it, but some say it's being recognized more.

"After they see it they're like, I know what he's doing," explained church member Kirk Anderson. "I've never had any problems with it."

Neelly Burton knows receiving the ashes in a public environment versus during a church service is an unconventional way to practice the ritual, but believes it's a good way adapt to people's fast-paced lives while also encouraging their faith.
"This is a way to take our faith out into the public realm without scaring our members who don't really like to go out and talk too much about faith all the time," she said.

Grace Presbyterian Church did plan a more traditional Ash Wednesday service for Wednesday night. That service will begin at 7:00 p.m.