Baptists are increasingly observing Lent this year if Facebook is any indication, with news feeds filled with announcements of morning, afternoon and evening Ash Wednesday services today.
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Among the first were the folks at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Lead Pastor Tony Lankford found himself smudging people's foreheads with ash before they headed off to work.
"It's a way for us to simply mark the beginning of an intentional season in our discipleship life," Lankford said. "It's the way to mark the start of a new focus and a new season."
Lent is a roughly six-week period leading up to Easter, which this year falls on March 31.
While long associated with Catholic and various liturgical Protestant denominations, its observance has spread in recent years to traditions known more for avoiding liturgical seasons than embracing them. Participating Baptists say they've discovered Lent deepens their relationship with Christ and heightens the anticipation of Easter.
That started for Brandon Hudson shortly after high school when the lifelong Southern Baptist from west Texas was exposed to Lent while visiting a Methodist church.
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press