Sharpsburg pastor offers ‘Ashes to Go’ |
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Tawnya Panizzi

O’Hara resident Glenn Drexler walked briskly down Main Street in Sharpsburg until he came upon the Rev. Ben Phipps outside Roots of Faith.

He gave a rowdy hello and stood outside to chat, despite temperatures that hovered in the teens just before 10 a.m. on March 6.

“This fits perfectly into my morning plan,” said Drexler, who lives in O’Hara’s Pleasant Valley neighborhood. “I figured I’d have a great breakfast at Brother Tom’s and then I’d walk down the street and get ashes.”

Ash Wednesday is celebrated by many Christians and launches the season of Lent, the six weeks until Easter, during which many perform penance.

For the fifth year, Phipps offered “Ashes to Go” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to people passing by his facility at 800 Main St.

He said there is typically a steady stream of people who walk along the borough’s business district, and many people stop by on their lunch hour. In past years, he and the Rev. Scott Shaffer have blessed as many as 50 people.

“We’ll be out on the streets for anyone who wants to receive ashes,” Phipps said. “They’re welcome to keep on moving, or, come in inside for cup of coffee and maybe to sit in quiet prayer.”

Launched in 2014, Roots of Faith is an outreach of Faith United Methodist Church in Fox Chapel. It opened with the mission of building relationships across social differences that exist in the region, Phipps said.

Since then, Roots has grown to provide services that include free community dinners, children’s programs and 11:30 a.m. Sunday services.

It is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, along with evening hours for special events.

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