September 2, 2015

Medina
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Brunswick church puts drive-through spin on Lenten ritual

The Rev. Lisa O’Rear-Lassen of St. Patrick Episcopal Church in Brunswick administers ashes to Rebecca Zunt during a “drive-through ashes” event Wednesday afternoon. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

The Rev. Lisa O’Rear-Lassen of St. Patrick Episcopal Church in Brunswick administers ashes to Rebecca Zunt during a “drive-through ashes” event Wednesday afternoon. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

A Brunswick Episcopal priest is exploring a new way to reach busy people at the start of the Lenten season.

On Ash Wednesday, the Rev. Lisa O’Rear-Lassen conducted an “Ashes to go” drive-through in front of St. Patrick Episcopal Church on Center Road.

The drive-through was open to anyone of any religion.

“It’s not a sacrament; this is just a pastoral offering,” O’Rear-Lassen explained. “But people are certainly moved by the words and for many it’s a challenge to get to church.”

O’Rear-Lassen stood by the edge of the church and a number of members held signs with arrows pointing to the “drive-thru ashes” in the church driveway.

Members offered ashes to motorists during morning rush hour, lunchtime and afternoon rush hour, and a simple 30-second blessing.

O’Rear-Lassen said some critics of her ministry say her “drive-through” church cheapens the seriousness of Ash Wednesday.

She disagrees, citing the example of a woman who came through the drive-through instead of attending an evening service in order to spend more time with her husband in a nursing home.

Rebecca Zunt said she was grateful for the opportunity to get ashes.

Zunt said she was battling ovarian cancer.

“I just stopped by because I don’t have the opportunity to get out much,” she said.

O’Rear-Lassen also offered a traditional service Wednesday evening, but she said many people have difficulty getting to church in the evenings.

“Everyone is battling something,” she said. “This gives a chance to reflect on what nourishes us, and even if they can’t attend church, they still care about liturgies and God.”

Members of the church also support the drive-through, now in its second year.

Deb Hammer, a church member, took a vacation day to stand outside with other volunteers and wave signs for motorists to spot.

“I just really love this experience. It’s very emotional and it’s a nice way to reach out,” she said. “We feel like we’re helping.”

Hammer handed those who stopped an Ash Wednesday pamphlet that included a special prayer and Psalm 51.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.


Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson is The Gazette's senior reporter. She covers Brunswick city and state and national government. She's been with The Gazette since August 2012. Contact her at (330) 721-4063 or via email at lgenson@medina-gazette.com.