FORT WALTON BEACH— Cindy and Ross Wohlhuter were blessed with ashes in the parking lot of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church during an Ashes to Go ceremony.
Instead of an hour-long service, the church offered a 10-minute drive-up option for parishioners and church-goers.
Pastor Tim Johnston said a short prayer and used ashes to mark the sign of the cross.
“ Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” he said, the words that are traditionally said in the solemnity of a church.
Visitors didn’t even have to get out of the cars to be blessed. Johnston gave them the choice of getting out or staying seated.
“We want people to know that God’s love is for them no matter what situation they’re in,” he said. “God doesn’t give up on us.”
Johnston said the idea came from speaking with other pastors and churches around the country who also perform this service. He said some who took advantage of the service were surprised by the concept, but all were thankful.
The morning event was held in addition to the church's regular Ash Wednesday services.
The Wohlhuters, visitors from Fairmont, Minnesota were among those who stopped by Wednesday morning. They said they had attended one of Holy Trinity’s Sunday services and learned about the drive-up option.
They were traveling on Ash Wednesday, so finding a service was difficult.
“When you’re traveling on the interstates, the highway signs do not say Lutheran church this way or Catholic this way,” Cindy said.
Johnston hopes to continue Ashes to Go in the coming years, but he said the church may start the ceremony at an earlier time..