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Bishops shine shoes for Maundy Thursday

Posted on: March 27, 2013 1:00 PM
The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, polishes shoes in Mansfield town centre
Photo Credit: Church of England

Church of England Bishops will be taking Easter to the streets of towns and city centres as they get on their knees to shine the shoes of passers-by on Maundy Thursday (March 28th).

In a modern interpretation on the tradition of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples on the day before Good Friday, Bishops will be taking the centuries old tradition of re-enacting foot washing to the people as they shine the shoes of shoppers and city centre workers. Simultaneously, other churches and cathedrals across the country will continue the tradition of foot-washing in special services, including the newly inaugurated Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral and Dr. John Sentamu at York Minster.

In Worksop, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, will join the Rt Rev Tony Porter, Bishop of Sherwood, to shine shoes in the town centre, whilst the Rt Rev Chris Edmonson, Bishop of Bolton, will be shining shoes in Victoria Square, Bolton.

Bishop Paul said: “This is a modern twist on the tradition of foot washing, which in Jesus’ day was done by the lowest servant of all. Jesus challenged his disciples then, and all of us today, to treat each other with such love and respect. We hope to have lots of opportunities to explain this and the message of Easter, while we offer a practical service to people in the town. Last year, we were kept busy polishing people’s shoes in Mansfield town centre. We’re very much looking forward to being in Worksop.”

Bishop Tony explained: “Shoe shining in the public space is a brilliant opportunity for Bishop Paul and myself to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ visible. As people go about their business in the town centre, they see bishops kneeling, shining shoes. Some just blink, others ask searching questions. It’s all done with a light touch and plenty of banter, but it is very effective.”