ShareThis Page
‘Ashes to Go’ just one of Ash Wednesday’s traditions |
Valley News Dispatch

‘Ashes to Go’ just one of Ash Wednesday’s traditions

Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
The Rev. Lisa Lyon of Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church offers ashes to Debi Bell of Hyde Park after praying on Ash Wednesday in front on CoCo Coffeehouse on Market Street in Leechburg. Co-pastors Revs. Gary and Lisa Lyon started “Ashes to Go” in 2016, allowing individuals to receive their ashes quickly and conveniently.
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
The Revs. Gary and Lisa Lyon, co-pastors at Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church in Leechburg, outside CoCo Coffeehouse on Market Street in Leechburg on Ash Wednesday have offered “Ashes to Go” for four years.

There’s a convenient way to receive ashes in Leechburg on Ash Wednesday.

The Revs. Gary and Lisa Lyon, co-pastors at Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church in Leechburg, offer “Ashes to Go” annually at two locations: CoCo Coffeehouse on Market Street in the morning and outside their church on Main Street from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The Ashes to Go practice was started by Episcopal clergy in 2007.

“It’s an opportunity to offer a devotional and reflective moment,” said the Rev. Lisa Lyon. “Last year, we had rain. This year, we have freezing cold, but we have already offered ashes to 13 people this morning.”

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season.

For those unable to make it to a brick and mortar church, this nontraditional way of received ashes is gaining traction, both pastors said.

“We actually had many businesses reach out to us this year, asking if we would go out in the community offering ashes,” said the Rev. Gary Lyon, Lisa’s husband.

Debi Bell of Hyde Park received her ashes while grabbing her take-out lunch from CoCo’s on Wednesday.

“I am busy working,” Bell said. “I own my hair salon and I come by every year.”

This is the fourth year the pastors have offered ashes to individuals on the street.

The Lyons offered a Scripture reading (Joel 2:12-13), a prayer and the Christian sign of repentance: a smudged cross of ashes on the forehead.

“People sometimes ask if it’s OK to receive ashes outside of church, and the answer is yes,” Lisa Lyon said. “The Bible tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, the Lord is the midst of them.”

Weston Patcyk, 27, of Parks Township is a busy new dad and husband who works. So he scheduled a Wednesday visit to CoCo’s with his wife, Kayla, and son, Jensen.

“I work shift-work, and it’s hard to get to church,” said Weston, a Catholic. “I like this. It’s convenient, and getting some coffee, too, was a bonus.”

Kathy Munko, a Protestant from Parks Township, never misses her devotional time on Ash Wednesday with the Lyonses.

“I think it’s great that they are doing it because there are people that don’t go to church around here, and they come by and they see this going on and they love it,” Munko said. “I do this every year.”

According to statistics from the Episcopal Church, more than 70 Episcopal parishes in 18 states bring Ash Wednesday to the streets nationwide.

CoCo Coffeehouse owner Nikki Saxion offers her popular eatery for Ashes to Go annually, and Gary Lyon said he and his wife are most grateful for the partnership.

“Nikki really deserves a mention for her support, but she stays behind the scenes,” Gary Lyon said. “We are very appreciative of her support.”

“I think the Ashes to Go concept is perfect for busy Christians today,” Saxion said, “and I am happy to help in any small way.”

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.