The concerns about coronavirus continue to have an impact on churches and how they celebrate.

The First Presbyterian Church in Oskaloosa is celebrating Ash Wednesday today with a drive-up service. Celebrants receive ashes and a prayer while remaining in their car.

“I heard about this over the radio and I looked it up on the internet..and there were churches where priests or the pastor were coming out to the people as a way of providing a safe way to still observe important dates like Ash Wednesday,” Pastor John White explains.

White hopes the drive-through brings parishioners out. “We have people literally who have not come back (to church). They may tune in through the internet or Facebook Live or so forth, but we haven’t seen them for months,” White says. “And so hopefully, this is a way where we’ll get to see them and do it in a safe way.”

White says things were a bit slow this morning, but the cold weather could have been a factor in that. The Catholic Church announced priests will sprinkle ashes on the heads of parishioners instead of making a cross on their forehead this week in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and avoid physical contact.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the beginning of Lent, when Christians repent their sins and profess their devotion to God. Lent concludes on Easter Sunday, April 4th.

(By Joe Lancello, KBOE, Oskaloosa)