GALLIPOLIS — With the Lenten season having arrived and spring rolling around the corner, the parking lot of Grace United Methodist Church has had an unusual number of vehicles present for a Thursday afternoon.
With the rich history of religion and diverse Christian background of rural Appalachia, there are many who know of Lent, and many who do not. Grace UMC has been hosting a Lenten service regularly for many years now, and it appears to be growing. So, what is Lent?
When asked about the subject, Pastor Bill Thomas (of Grace) stated: “It is a time of looking toward the cross, and remembering Christ’ death and resurrection.”
Also present at the time was Lay Leader of Grace church Ken Kyger. When asked the question of what Lent is, his response focused heavily on self-evaluation.
“It is a time for the individual to reflect and look back on the Gospel and understand how God is still working in ways above and beyond our human understanding,” Kyger said.
Many with a religious background similar to the Catholic tradition know that Lent is a season of 40 days that come before Resurrection Sunday, or Easter as it has come to be known. In historical tradition, the season began as a way for new converts to the Christian faith to become initiated into the church.
“It began in the early church as a way to consummate new Gentile (non-Jewish) believers in a two year process of initiation,” Thomas said. “Baptisms always occurred on Resurrection Sunday, and the forty days leading up to that was a time of reflection and fasting in order to affirm their new belief.”
Grace church plays host to anyone that desires to celebrate, having a service focused around the events of the death and resurrection of Jesus followed by a meal. Each week during Lent brings a new Pastor, helping to unite the community of Faith in Gallia County.
In years past, Lent was largely a Methodist and Catholic tradition and not a Baptist one. This year, Christian Scott from Paint Creek Baptist as John O’brien from River City Fellowship are bringing messages to the pulpit; both of whom are from Baptist traditions.
“It really helps to unite the christian community together as we unite around our most central belief, Jesus Christ,” explained Kyger. Anyone is welcome to attend the Lenten services, which occur every Thursday at noon until Easter Sunday on April 16.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 or at [email protected]