Adapting to ministry in a COVID-19 world, First Baptist Church of Griffin conducted its annual Ash Wednesday service as a drive-thru event.

Ministers were on hand at scheduled times throughout the day to lead congregants in a time of prayer and dedication to Lenten practices from the safety of their cars.

All participants closely followed COVID-19 protocols to ensure that the ritual could be observed in relative safety.

The ministers of the church used a touchless method to impose ashes, lead the participants in a time of prayer, and pronounce a special blessing over each family. The church also provided a box of special devotional materials so that each family could observe Lenten practices at home.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent — a 40-day season of preparation for Christians leading up to Easter.

Ashes made from the burned palm branches of the last year’s Palm Sunday service, are placed on the forehead as a symbol of repentance and a desire to turn from one’s sin. The season of Lent is traditionally marked by a concentrated focus on repentance, fasting, scripture study, and prayer.

“The Easter story is at the very heart of the Christian message. Lent gives us time and space to adequately prepare for that most sacred of days,” said the Rev. Steven Norris, the senior pastor of First Baptist. “It gives us a chance to walk in the footsteps of Jesus — our 40-day journey mirroring his 40 days in the wilderness. Although COVID has forced us to creatively reimagine some of these important rituals and practices, we are humbled at the chance to continue this service in such an intimate and personal way.”