Local Church Offers Drive-Thru ‘Ash and Dash’ Service for Ash Wednesday

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church is finding a pandemic-safe way to connect with worshipers

The pandemic has renewed our affection for drive-thru meals and movies. Now, for this year’s Ash Wednesday, one local church is offering a drive-thru “ash and dash” service, where you can receive blessings and even ashes (though no physical touching of the forehead is involved) without leaving the safety of your car.

ash Wednesday pandemic st marks church
Photo courtesy of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Upland has staged drive-thru Ash Wednesday services before, offering blessings through the window for busy commuters in the morning hours and for those with mobility issues that made traditional indoor services difficult. This year, they realized they could adapt the idea to offer a COVID-safe Ash Wednesday.

Open to all “no matter where you are in your spiritual journey,” according to a statement from the church, the drive-thru Ash Wednesday procedure involves rolling up to masked clergy members with the car windows closed. Ministers will place pre-prepped packets of blessed ashes in through the trunk, like a curbside pick-up order, for participants to apply to their own foreheads later on.

ash Wednesday pandemic st marks church
Photo courtesy of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

“Ash and Dash is more relevant than ever because the pandemic is forcing many churches to adapt spiritual traditions so that people can still participate in person, even during these times of social distancing,” Saint Mark’s Rector Reverend Keith Yamamoto says. “By modifying this experience this year, we hope to meet people where they are, spiritually, and give them an opportunity to participate safely in what has become a very sacred tradition to millions of Christians around the world on Ash Wednesday. But also do it in a way that is safe given public health guidelines.”

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, 330 East 16th St., Upland. Drive-Thru Ash Wednesday services offered 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. on February 17, 2021.

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