Children from St Peter’s Church of England Primary School, Folkestone, observe Ash Wednesday with ‘sin burning’

On Wednesday 5 March, children from St Peter’s Church of England Primary School in Folkestone participated in a special service to mark the start of Lent, which included symbolically burning lists of sins compiled by the children.

Father David Adlington, Priest-in-Charge of St Peter’s, led the Ash Wednesday service, which started in St Peter’s Church, and which included all the children having their foreheads marked in ash with the sign of the cross.

At the end of the service, pupils and staff processed out of the church to the school playground to stand around a metal waste paper bin. Father David called representatives from each class to the middle, where they deposited lists of sins they had written. The lists were then burned to symbolise God’s forgiveness.

Head teacher, Ms Toni Deacon, commented: “The service was important because as a church school we wanted to mark the beginning of Lent. We included the burning of the sins for the first time as we wanted to focus on the theme of forgiveness and the fact that if we are truly sorry for the things we have done wrong, God forgives. The burning was very visual for the children and demonstrated the point that once we have said sorry and God has forgiven us we move on and our sins are ‘wiped away’.

“When I spoke with some children after the service it was clear that they had a very good understanding of the reason behind the burning. One child said ‘I wrote my sins on the piece of paper and no one else knew, because it was between me and God. We burnt them because we said sorry in church and God has forgiven us, so the sins have gone away. Father David also talked about us returning one day to ash and that’s what happened to our sins.’”

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the 46 day period before Easter. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of ashes on the foreheads of worshippers as a sign of repentance to God for past sins. Ashes are gathered from the burning of palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter Sunday).


Further information from:

Emily Shepherd, Director of Communications, Canterbury Diocese 01227 459 401, 07876 210 446,


  • 2 x Fr David Adlington marking a cross in ash on pupils’ foreheads in St Peter’s Church
  • Fr David Adlington burning sins in the bucket at St Peter’s Primary School
  • Staff, pupils and Fr David with the sin bucket in St Peter’s Primary School playground