Although Ash Wednesday was Feb. 17, many churches were not able to meet due to bad roads, extreme cold, and an expected four to eight additional inches of snow on top of what Paragould received Monday.
But quite a few churches have used technology to beat both the weather and the coronavirus. First United Methodist Church, Griffin Memorial United Methodist Church and All Saints’ Episcopal Church had announced virtual Ash Wednesday services.
“The way we’ll do it is online on Facebook like most services,” said Rev. Matthew Richardson, priest in charge at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Tuesday. “We’ll go through the liturgy, we’ll have the sermon, and then we’ll have everyone do a silent reflection of atonement and then we’ll do the ashes.”
Richardson noted the need to refrain from personal contact due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 public health emergency has already presented the church with the opportunity to adapt the service to the reality of no-contact services.
“So those watching can either make their own ashes,” he said, “or go out to the garden and get some soil.”
“Yes, we must remember: ‘you are dust,’” Richardson said, “‘and to dust you shall return.’ It’s a way to humble yourself.”
Richardson said that at the time for the ashes (or soil, as appropriate), the individual participant would take the ash and make a cross on his or her forehead. He said the Ash Wednesday service would be on Facebook.
Mandy Kerperien, secretary at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, said the church’s priest, Fr. Mariadass Vallapaneni, would be conducting the Ash Wednesday service as part of the regularly scheduled masses at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. “He’ll be there in person to conduct the mass,” she said, “and we’ll also be doing it virtually.”
The Facebook page of Redeemer Lutheran Church posted on Tuesday afternoon that the Ash Wednesday service originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17 has been changed to Sunday, Feb. 21.
Rev. Dane Womack, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church, said the Ash Wednesday service was to be streamed on the church’s Facebook page at noon and at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17.