PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Not everyone could get to church today to celebrate Ash Wednesday, so one local church leader answered the call by taking the ashes to the people.

When the noon service was completed at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown, Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Trinity provost Cathy Brall walked to Market Square where the faithful lined up for the blessing of ashes on their foreheads.

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The distribution of ashes outdoors may be new to Pittsburgh, but Bishop McConnell says outdoor ministry dates back to the time of Christ.

“The apostles did it,” Bishop McConnell said. “The saints throughout the centuries have done it. Francis has done it. The church always does it in ways that maybe we’re not used to seeing.”

For the Episcopal Church, it’s an effort to keep up with an increasingly fast-paced society. They call it “Ashes to Go.”

“It’s an opportunity for the church to come out into the community,” says Eric McIntosh of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. “And be a part of the community, and the life of the community, and to share a testimony about our faith.”

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“For somebody who can’t get out of the office for all of the times that they offer it, it’s nice to be able to come here and do it on your lunch break,” says downtown office worker Stephanie Scanga.

Bishop McConnell says it’s a chance to “go out and meet people who may not be able to get to church, but also folks who have been led to believe for one reason or another that they don’t belong.”

“Ashes to Go” helps to bridge the gap.

Listen to KDKA Radio’s Joe DeStio’s interview with Bishop McConnell:

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