Ashes to Go

Ashes being dispensed to individual By Rick Wolcott*

“God is everywhere.”

This message was shared by the Rev. Karen Hollingsworth of Lorain Faith United Methodist Church (Firelands district) as she and the Rev. Lisa Morrison of Lorain Lighthouse United Methodist Church (Firelands district) dispensed ashes at the Lorain United Methodist Ministries Clothing Depot on Ash Wednesday.

The Ashes to Go ministry touched the lives of dozens of people inside the store, on the sidewalk outside and in the surrounding businesses.

“It was so amazing to see passersby notice what we were doing and then turn their cars around to be a part of it,” Morrison said.

“I needed this so much.  Thank you for being here,” a woman told Hollingsworth as the two prayed together.

Boo, a 17-year-old who lives a few houses away from Lorain Faith UMC, came into the store for ashes and left with an invitation to come to church on Sunday.  Michael, a man in his early twenties stopped on his way to work to ask for prayers for his father.  Natalie jumped out of the car she was in and ran over to receive ashes and ask for prayers for her family.  Frank, who had just been released from a nursing home after a five-week stay stopped to give thanks and to receive prayer and ashes.

“It was a gift to be with Lisa serving God and the church,” Hollingsworth said.  “We explained to people what we were doing and the significance of Ash Wednesday.”

“People were surprised that ‘the church’ would show up in the streets and they expressed gratitude for this feature of love and grace,” Morrison said.  “People are hurting and struggling and are longing to know this God of forgiveness and mercy and love.”

*Rick Wolcott is Director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.