Editor’s Note: The story has been updated with the correct times.

VIENNA, VA – Ash Wednesday is the start of the Christian observance of Lent, and a church in Vienna is applying the tradition differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, a United Methodist Church, is offering drive-in ashes on Wednesday, March 2. Instead of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead, members will receive small crosses with ashes for self-imposition.

“To be safe in the ongoing pandemic, we are doing things a little differently this year on Ash Wednesday, which is the start of the Lenten season,” Pastor Eric Song said. “We will distribute small crosses filled with ashes for people to do the imposition of the ashes themselves at home or to keep as a souvenir.”

Song will be in the church parking lot at 2351 Hunter Mill Road, Vienna, from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. to distribute the small crosses filled with ashes. An Ash Wednesday service will be held in person and online at 7:30 p.m. but will not include the imposition of ashes.

Copies of the church’s 23rd annual publication Devotions for Lent will also be distributed at the drive-thru. 4,000 additional copies are posted in the neighborhoods surrounding the church. An online version is available at www.GoodShepherdVA.com, and daily devotions will be shared on the Church of the Good Shepherd Facebook page.

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