In a communications committee meeting on Tuesday night, co-chair Peter Williams reminded us that one of our team goals was to give expression to being a “church without walls.” It was just what I needed to hear as I prepared for Ashes-To-Go at the Irvington train station the following morning. Having reached out to Channel 12, and knowing that they would want to run a live-segment at 8AM, I had the phrase “church without walls” on the tip of my tongue. Without collaboration with the communications team I wouldn’t have been properly prepared to represent the significance of offering Ashes-To-Go to a wider audience. I returned to the train station on Wednesday evening and continued connecting people to their mortality and to God with the phrase, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Know that you are indeed a beloved Child of God.”
Later that evening, ashes were offered to those who gathered on the front lawn of the church for a candlelit vigil for Ukraine. I was joined, as I had been at the station that morning, by clergy colleagues from Aldersgate United Methodist Church and Irvington Presbyterian Church. Blaine Crawford, Sue Yun and I had the privilege of leading a gathering of about 40 people bathed in candlelight and immersed in quiet prayer for people and places in Ukraine covered by the ashes of death and destruction. It felt right that I had made the decision to move the Ash Wednesday service outdoors so that we could be a church without walls for those who belong to our local churches and for those who simply needed a place to come for communal lament and consolation.
Gareth Evans serves as the rector of St. Barnabas. He is an inspirational leader who brings significant pastoral experience, a depth of reverence in worship, and a relatable preaching style.