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Forsyth community marks Ash Wednesday with services, teaching
1WEB Ash
Father William Brock, LC places ash on the foreheads of those attending the service. - photo by Jim Dean

SOUTH FORSYTH -- While Catholics throughout Forsyth County may have attended mass early in the morning or after work to mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, some of the area’s tiniest observers commemorated the day during school.

Pinecrest Academy, a private parochial Catholic school on Peachtree Parkway, held five services throughout the day for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to receive the traditional ashes on their forehead, a ceremony that parents, teachers and the community is welcomed to each year.

“It gives them a deeper formative opportunity to engage with the season of Lent,” said John Huynh, director of campus ministry. “As Wednesday always draws a nice community together because we are kind of kick-starting the season of Lent together.”

Ash Wednesday, the tradition of marking your forehead with a cross in ash, is a reminder of both our mortality and of our sins, which are

repented for in the days leading up to Easter.
“It’s the one day a year you know who’s Catholic,” Huynh said.

While that may be generally true, other denominations marked Ash Wednesday in Forsyth County.

“We take the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday, and we save those and they are burned for the imposition of ashes for the following Ash Wednesday,” said Nancy Meeker, assistant pastor at Midway United Methodist Church.

More than 80 people attended the evening service at the church on Atlanta Highway in southwest Forsyth, and Meeker said seeing them all together is what struck her about the day.

“Seeing the sea of faces and the body of Christ coming together to share with one another and to be vulnerable before God, and then knowing what was going to come,” Meeker said.

She said while many people simply give something up for Lent, Midway UMC tries to instill the idea of also adding an intangible practice that betters each person, like vowing not to gossip or to begin a new spiritual practice.

“I was personally touched by seeing everyone in the congregation at the end of the service with the crosses of the ashes on their heads,” Meeker said, “and meaning their love for God.”