Seminary conducts feet washing ceremony

Fri, 2012-07-20 11:02 -- univcomm

  Date: 4/24/2000

  Title: Seminary conducts feet washing ceremony

Most people won't let you see their feet, let alone touch them. But things were a little different during a recent service in Miller Chapel at the Anderson University School of Theology. Not only did people remove their stockings and shoes; they knelt in front of one another, and one foot at a time, gently washed their neighbor's feet and dried them with a towel---all in the name of the service of Jesus Christ.

Anderson University honored seven School of Theology students gathered in the Miller Chapel as they neared the end of their seminary service. The washing of the feet -- some of which were of the students, others of faculty and a few of those who stopped in to worship -- was only a small piece of the ceremony, but by far, the most memorable.

The chapel service presented the graduates with a towel of servanthood and then the washing of the feet began.

"This is a reminder that your calling is to serve the Lord," said Gilbert W. Stafford, dean of chapel, who described the washing of the disciples' feet by Jesus and how it renewed and cleansed them. "We refresh each other by washing each others' feet."

The washing ceremony remained simple. Those who wished to participate sat at the front of the chapel in one of several circles. Water was poured from a porcelain-like pitcher into a small basin. Each person washed the feet of the one sitting to the right of him.

Behind those who gathered there, light illuminated through the large stain-glass window with the image of Jesus in front of the cross. Surrounding him were emblems of Christianity, one of which was of a pitcher and towel with the word SERVICE written below.

"When I came to seminary school, I thought they would give preacher's kits ... the gift I was being given was far different," said Grant Butler, a graduating student.

Butler described some of the perils of just going through the classes, which led him to handling the body of a gunshot victim and comforting the widow of a suicide victim. "I am thankful for the gifts they did give me: tools of discovery and creativity."

The graduating students and their degrees included: Butler, master of divinity: pastoral care and counseling; Patrick John Hannon, Grant Andrew Horner and Andreas T. Krenz, master of divinity: pastoral studies; Earl J. Heath Jr., master of religious education; Catherine Slabaugh, master of divinity: Christian education; and Ron Wilson, master of divinity.

---Stacey Grosh is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.