SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lent began on March 2, which is also known as Ash Wednesday. Local pastors made the in-person return to Schenectady’s Jay Street for “Ashes to Go” after a COVID hiatus.

When Rev. Dustin Wright of Messiah Lutheran Church in Rotterdam and Rev. Deron Milleville of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glenville packed up at the end of their annual Schenectady Ashes to Go event in 2020, right as they had started hearing about something called COVID, they had no idea it would take so long to come back for one of their most cherished events of the year. Both congregations have lost members and friends to the pandemic, and just like all of us, have been through so much since that time.

Once again though, as COVID conditions have greatly improved over the last month, they made a come back on Ash Wednesday, March 2nd this year, marking the start of Lent for Christians across the world. For centuries it has been a day where Christians receive ashes as a sign of their commitment to drawing closer to God and their communities.

Schenectady resident Anthony Papasso received ashes Wednesday morning on Jay Street from Rev. Wright. He said, “It’s a great thing, so people can’t make it to church and this works out for everyone.” 

Pastor Dustin said, “The message of Ash Wednesday is uniquely powerful this year as so many of us, myself included, continue to mourn our losses, navigate a myriad of mental health concerns and find our new normal. Ash Wednesday reminds us that it is in fact because of our brokenness, not in spite of it, that we are all beautiful and beloved people equally created in the image of God.”

“Doubt and faith are found in a variety of places,” Pastor Deron added. “If I can strengthen and ignite faith as this season begins, I’ve done my job.”

Pastor Dustin and Pastor Deron distributed ashes on Jay Street in downtown Schenectady Wednesday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.