|Sara Gaud slips off her shoes as she prepares to donate them at Sunny Lane UMC.
On Maundy Thursday, Sunny Lane UMC in Del City truly stepped up to serve.
The church collected 144 pairs of new and used shoes to be distributed through Skyline Urban Ministry, which assists people who are marginalized.
The story of Jesus washing the feet of his followers often is referenced during Holy Week.
"Instead of washing one another’s feet, we decided to put shoes on people’s feet," said Pastor Larry Bauman, "because we know that not all God’s children have decent shoes."
Rev. Bauman and his wife, Sheryl, gleaned the idea from another pastoral couple, from Austin, Texas. Attending an Easter service, that couple faced a decision when the closing invitation called worshippers to step out of their shoes and donate them for someone without shoes.
Bauman said the Austin couple felt deeply challenged as they looked down at their brand-new cowboy boots. But feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they took off those boots, walked to their car in their socks, and realized God was calling them to lead their congregation into ministry with the poor.
When he heard that story, Bauman said, he realized God was providing an answer to his search for a meaningful Maundy Thursday event.
"I thought about how to make this work in a setting like ours, with so many of our people having health and age-related issues," he said.
"We began to ask people to go through their closets and bring gently used shoes or to bring an offering toward buying shoes" to the special service.
As worshippers arrived, their shoe donations were collected, and people giving money brought forward their offerings as they received Holy Communion.
"During the invitation I surprised them," the pastor said, "by asking people who were able to consider leaving the shoes they wore to the service.
"It was no surprise to me how our people opened their hearts and responded!"
He continued, "My surprise came when I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to step out of the new dress shoes I was wearing and leave them, too."