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17 April 2014

Clergy shoe shine

Clergy shoe shine

It's become a bit of a thing in recent years for church leaders to be getting down on their knees in the streets of their towns on Maundy Thursday to shine people's shoes. It causes passers-by to stop in their tracks. It is a modern-day equivalent of washing feet, imitating Jesus' actions at the Last Supper and reflects a tradition that clergy wash the feet of their parishioners on Maundy Thursday.

Representatives from the local churches often use the opportunity to give out details of their forthcoming Easter services, Easter celebrations or parties to passers-by.

Vicars are often on their knees in prayer but Cardiff clergy will have something else on their mind when they kneel in Holy Week. Today, Maundy Thursday (17 April) church leaders in Cardiff will be shining the city's shoes. Between 12pm and 2pm at the Castle end of Queen Street, church ministers from a variety of denominations will be polishing and shining the shoes of Easter shoppers.

Event organiser and co-ordinator of the Net Cardiff, Rev Steve Harris said: "More than 20 Cardiff church leaders will be involved in the shoe shine and it's a fun way of serving the city and letting people know that Easter is a special time of the year. Foot-washing probably wouldn't be that appropriate but cleaning up footwear is the next best thing. And to cap it all, it's probably the first time in Cardiff that so many church leaders have got on their knees together to shine shoes."

The Bishop of Bolton, Christopher Edmondson, will join with local clergy and chaplains, to shine shoes in the streets of Bolton and Eccles today also – reflecting the modern twist on the tradition.

He said: "It will be a very humbling experience to meet the people of my community this way. It will be intriguing to see what conversations we have. The shoe shine is a demonstration that those who follow Jesus are expected to roll up their sleeves and help people. As Jesus said: 'The first shall be last….those who lead shall serve.'"

Elfed Godding, national director of Evangelical Alliance Wales, who will be joining the Cardiff contingent, said: "I think people will be bemused that church leaders will give time aside from their duties to shine shoes. More than anything else it is a conversation starter. It's a chance to explain that Jesus came to serve and demonstrate that we are to serve others."

Other towns or cities with clergy shining shoes have included Southwell and Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, London, Peterborough, Nottingham and more.