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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

No Ashes to Go again this year

For the second year in a row, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church won’t be able to distribute Ashes to Go along Grand Haven’s busy Beacon Boulevard, but he is ensuring that people have an opportunity to come and receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17.

“Last year, I wound up pretty sick on Ash Wednesday and so was not able even to do the church services, which my priest associate covered for me,” the Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer explained. “This year, our diocesan COVID-19 restrictions have made the public offering of Ashes to Go not possible. I’m limited instead to my own parish parking lot and worship services.”

Like many churches, St. John’s Episcopal Church has been in some form of closure since March 2020. Although risk levels are falling in our county and region of the state, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan has not yet opened parishes to in-person worship. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, they are also not allowing Ashes to Go at public locations, something Cramer has been doing in Grand Haven for nearly a decade.

“I’m disappointed by the reality, but what matters most is keeping people safe,” Cramer said. “My hope is that those who may not have a church home or a way to receive ashes, but want to participate in the church’s invitation to a Holy Lent, will watch one of our streaming services online and then come after the service to receive ashes and communion, if they wish, in the church parking lot.”

The parish will offer a livestreaming service of Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes in English at noon on Ash Wednesday. Following that service, Cramer will be in the west parking lot from 1-1:30 p.m. so that people who watched online can come to the church and receive the sign of ashes and Holy Communion.

The parish also offers a bilingual service in Spanish and English at 6 p.m. Ash Wednesday, with ashes and communion available in the west lot from 7-7:30 p.m. Participants are asked to drive up the church’s Franklin Street entrance to the lot where Cramer will be waiting by the west entrance to the church.

“Lent is a time to take stock,” Cramer said. “We all have been reminded of our mortality by this pandemic. We’ve all experienced some kind of grief and loss – some have experienced it in devastating ways. On Ash Wednesday, the church reminds us that we come from dust and to dust we shall return, but also that we are beloved dust and that God’s love and forgiveness are ever present to us.”

For more information, visit the church’s website at or call the parish office at 616-842-6260.

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