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Dundalk Church Collaboration Takes Ministry to the People

Lutheran and United Methodist pastors worked together to provide "Ashes to Go," a mobile Ash Wednesday service, to residents too busy to attend formal church services.

Motorists on their way to and from work or perhaps running errands Wednesday morning were able to do some multi-tasking without planning for it.

Thanks to a collaboration between New Light Lutheran and Lodge Forest and Patapsco United Methodist churches, motorists too busy to attend Ash Wednesday services were still able to receive ashes on the first day of Lent.

"This morning, I ran out to a couple of drivers stopped in traffic," the Rev. Bonnie McCubbin said Wednesday afternoon. "They didn't even have to get out of their cars."

McCubbin, pastor of Lodge Forest and Patapsco, and the Rev. Kristi Kunkel, pastor of New Light Lutheran, offered the mobile ash service as a way of reaching out to community members who either don't belong to a church or are too busy to attend a formal service.

The two pastors were joined by several church members who waved to motorists and pedestrians and carried signs announcing the "Ashes to Go" program.

Three stations throughout Dundalk and Edgemere were offered, beginning at Patapsco UMC early Wednesday morning and near the Food Lion grocery store in Edgemere in the afternoon. Ashes to Go ended at New Light Lutheran (formerly St. Timothy's), where ashes were offered from 4 to 6 p.m.

While staffing the Edgemere station, McCubbin said more than 75 people received ashes at the morning site, and she expected about another 30 to receive them in Edgemere.

Edgemere resident Lorraine Derka took advantage of the mobile services to receive her ashes Wednesday afternoon.

Because of a scheduling conflict, the Lodge Forest UMC member was unable to attend her church's formal Ash Wednesday service.

After receiving the mark of the cross on her forehead, Derka was all smiles.

"I love it," she said of the mobile program. "I think it's fantastic. And maybe it will bring more people in to the church."

The two pastors, the only female clergy members in Greater Dundalk, met through the Dundalk Area Ministerial Association, McCubbin said.

"We hit it off right away, and we're not too far apart in age," she said. "We talked about ways to work together. I said I was interested in offering Ashes to Go and asked if she had ever heard of it."

Kinkel was familiar with the outreach effort that started in 2007 in Missouri, and had been wanting to offer the service as well, McCubbin said of her new colleague.

The collaboration was born, McCubbin said, and the first fruits of that collaboration were served to Dundalk and Edgemere residents Wednesday.

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