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Churches Follow the Example of Mister Rogers in Foot-Washing Ceremonies

As Americans continue protesting racial injustice, churches in several cities are holding simple yet powerful foot-washing ceremonies. The biblically-based act symbolizes racial and community unity while the country grapples with tough issues such as police brutality and systemic racism.

Foot-Washing Ceremony Is a Way to ‘love on the city’

On Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, a foot-washing ceremony (plus the distribution of dry socks) was held in Courthouse Square. Joel Burton, pastor with Simple Street Ministry, opened with prayer for peace and a fresh start, adding that the event was an avenue to “love on the city.”

In a kiddie pool, Burton washed the feet of Israel Baxter, pastor of New Hope Life Church. Baxter, an African-American, says despite feeling frustrated by recent events, he clings to hope and goodness. “The darker the night, the brighter the light shines,” he says, adding, “If you have a voice of influence, your responsibility is to use that platform to influence people to stay on the right path.”

A similar ceremony occurred June 3 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, during a “Healing the Divide” service led by The Rock Church. White pastors washed the feet of African-American pastors, and then they switched roles. Mayor Bobby Dyer says the ceremony “defines the heart and soul” of the town. “We have the faiths coming together, we have races coming together,” he says. “This is about community; this is about unity. This is about not tolerating injustice in Minneapolis or any other place.”

A First Step Toward Healing

In Cary, North Carolina, Soboma and Faith Wokoma, pastors of Legacy Center Church, organized a Unity Prayer Walk and were “pleasantly surprised” when other faith leaders and the mayor wanted to participate. The couple were among the black community leaders who received foot washing—and words of forgiveness—from march attendees, including police officers.

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Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin
Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 27 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.

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