Churches Across the Diocese to Be Part of Ashes to Go

Feb. 14 is Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period observed by Christians worldwide. It falls forty-six days before Easter Sunday, signifying the start of a season of reflection, repentance, and spiritual renewal. The day holds immense significance for believers, symbolizing mortality, penance, and the call to return to God.

The Rev. Joanna Hollis imposes ashes at the train station in New Brunswick for Ashes to Go 2023

Central to the observance of Ash Wednesday is the ritual of the imposition of ashes. This ancient practice traces its origins to the Old Testament, where ashes were used as a symbol of mourning, repentance, and humility. In the Christian tradition, the imposition of ashes serves as a tangible reminder of human frailty, the need for repentance, and the ultimate promise of redemption through Christ.

During Ash Wednesday services, worshippers receive a mark of ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ashes are typically made by burning palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. As the priest or minister applies the ashes, they recite the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” echoing the biblical account of God forming Adam from the dust of the earth.

The act of receiving ashes serves as a solemn reminder of mortality, urging individuals to contemplate the brevity of life and the need to prioritize spiritual matters. It invites introspection, repentance, and a renewed commitment to living faithfully in accordance with one’s beliefs.

In recent years, a movement known as “Ashes to Go” has emerged, bringing the ancient tradition of ash imposition beyond the walls of churches and into public spaces. Churches in the Diocese of New Jersey have been an active part of this ministry for the past ten years or so. This innovative approach seeks to make Ash Wednesday accessible to individuals who may not attend traditional church services but still wish to participate in the observance.

Through Ashes to Go, clergy and volunteers set up stations in locations such as street corners, train stations, and college campuses, offering ashes and brief prayers to passersby. This initiative recognizes the hectic pace of modern life and the need for spiritual nourishment amidst daily routines. By bringing the ritual of ash imposition to the streets, Ashes to Go invites people to pause, reflect, and engage with their faith in a meaningful way, even amid the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The Ashes to Go program has gained popularity for its inclusive approach, welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds and faith traditions. It acknowledges that the desire for spiritual connection transcends denominational boundaries and offers a non-judgmental space for people to participate in a centuries-old tradition, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Ultimately, whether received in a traditional church setting or through Ashes to Go, the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday serves as a powerful symbol of humanity’s shared mortality and the universal call to repentance and renewal. It bridges the gap between the sacred and the secular, inviting individuals to embark on a journey of spiritual introspection and transformation as they prepare to commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ during the Lenten season.

Ashes to Go Locations



St Thomas’ Episcopal Church


East Main Street & Hamilton Street

St. Paul’s Bound Brook will be on the corner imposing ashes

Chamberlain Student Center

St. Thomas Glassboro will be at the Rowan University Chamberlain Student Center to impose ashes throughout the day

Point Pleasant Beach Station

St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea will be at the station on the parking lot side

St Peter’s Episcopal Church

Ashes to Go drive through in the morning

New Brunswick Train Station

Christ Church New Brunswick will be on site

5 Mine St

The Episcopal Campus Ministry at Rutgers will impose ashes inside the Canterbury House Chapel from 8–6

Avalon Somerville Station


Church of St Mark & All Saints

Drive thru ashes in our parking lot

Saint Marks Center for Community Renewal ( Episcopal Church )


Main Street Peapack/Gladstone

St. Mark’s will be on Main Street across from Cocoluxe Fine Pastries

Woodbridge Train Station

Trinity Woodbridge will be on site

Swales Park

St. James Edison will be on site

Seastreak Ferry


Trinity Episcopal Church

In the church parking lot from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bay Head

All Saints’ Church Bay Head will be at the train station

Dunellen Station

St. Francis Dunellen will be at the station

St Luke’s Episcopal Church

Imposing ashes in the driveway until 8 a.m.

Church of the Holy Cross

Walk-in Ashes to Go at the church

Marine Street

Church of the Holy Innocents will be on Marine Street

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Ashes to Go in the church parking lot

The College of New Jersey Student Center


Find an Ashes to Go Location

Click here to view the full-size map map

What is Ashes to Go?

What is Ash Wednesday?

What is Lent?