Ash Wednesday

In this 2014 photo, Paige Helmhold wears the sign of the cross on her forehead during the Ash Wednesday Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Sioux City. A group of local churches will be offering "Ashes 2 Go" at seven locations for Ash Wednesday this year. 

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY -- On Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14), a group of clergy and lay people from local ELCA Lutheran, Methodist and Episcopal congregations will be offering a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition.

"Ashes 2 Go" is a nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting retail shops, street corners, homeless shelters, college campuses, even drive-thru locations to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes.

The ashes are an ancient reminder of mortality and penitence. Participants are invited to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal during the Lenten season.

"Faith is a very public matter," the Rev. Jeff Swanson, pastor at St. John Lutheran Church, said in a press release. "This effort to be public as the Lenten journey begins is a declaration of our idea that faith is not just for inside buildings but is for the activities and actions of daily life. We invite the community to share and participate."

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

The group of area clergy and lay leaders will have stations in Sioux City at:

• Drive-through at St. John Lutheran Church, 2801 Jackson St., from 6 to 8 a.m.

• Drive-through at Augustana Lutheran Church, 600 Court St., from 6 to 8 a.m.

• Grace United Methodist, 1735 Morningside Ave., from 6:30 to 8 a.m.

• The Warming Shelter, Ninth and Nebraska streets, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

• Courthouse and City Offices, Sixth and Douglas streets, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

• Olsen Campus Center on Peters Avenue, Morningside College, from 8:30 to 11 a.m.

• Hy-Vee Marketplace, Hamilton Boulevard, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Local congregations will offer worship opportunities throughout the day.

For additional information, contact Rev. Jeff Swanson at 277-3945 or by email at stjohnlutheranpastor@gmail.com.

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