Pastor Karen Martin Tichenor applies ashes to Pastor Meredith Harber’s forehead as they prepare for Ashes to Go! on Wednesday; Feb. 22; 2023 at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna; Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Pastor Karen Martin Tichenor applies ashes to Pastor Meredith Harber’s forehead as they prepare for Ashes to Go! on Wednesday; Feb. 22; 2023 at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna; Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Drive-thru Ash Wednesday debuts in Soldotna

A new way to participate in Ash Wednesday debuted on the central Kenai Peninsula on Wednesday. The first “Ashes to Go!” drive-thru Ash Wednesday service was held from noon to 1 p.m. at Soldotna Creek Park.

Pastor Meredith Harber of Christ Lutheran Church organized the event alongside Pastor April Hall of Kenai and North Star United Methodist Church, Pastor Karen Martin Tichenor of Soldotna United Methodist Church and retired Episcopalian priest Father Rick Miles.

Harber said together they represented Lutheran, Methodist and Episcopalian ministries.

The ministers gathered together in the park’s parking lot, with a tent and a banner set up. Those interested in participating could drive up and receive the sign of the cross drawn on their forehead in ash, along with a quick prayer before driving away.

“We offer the reminder ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’” Harber said.

The ashes are, in keeping with tradition, the burnt palms from Palm Sunday, celebrated in April. Harber said they take the burnt branches, mix them with oil, and draw the sign of the cross on the forehead.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, with ashes being a sign of penitence, according to informational flyers distributed at the event.

“This is an ecumenical offering for the community where people can come through and be reminded of not only their humanness, but also how much God loves them,” Harber said. “In spite of and because of their humanness.”

A more accessible drive-thru offering is something Harber said she’s experimented with before, in the parking lot of her church, largely for the members of her congregation. She said that Miles suggested “Ashes to Go!” and they quickly got the event together. The group hoped to make the occasion an annual event.

For more information about Christ Lutheran Church, Kenai United Methodist Church, North Star United Methodist Church or Soldotna United Methodist Church, visit their Facebook pages.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Father Rick Miles receives ashes from Pastor Meredith Harber as they prepare for Ashes to Go! on Wednesday; Feb. 22; 2023 at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna; Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Father Rick Miles receives ashes from Pastor Meredith Harber as they prepare for Ashes to Go! on Wednesday; Feb. 22; 2023 at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna; Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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