12 February 2020  |

The comments Loren Seibold reported about what some folks feel about the foot washing part of communion were some of the same I heard when I did Biblical Hospitality seminars and passed around a “communion questionnaire.”

What I’ve started doing at my church in Beltsville, MD, where communion is much better attended than years ago, is this: When people leave the sanctuary to foot washing I go down the aisle to find someone who is staying in the sanctuary. I ask if they would like to participate with me. I’ve done this twice at my church now and will continue to do it. 

The first time a woman said she couldn’t have her feet washed, but she would wash mine. She had two younger women sitting with her so I invited them to come too. I told her if she couldn’t have her feet washed we could wash hands. While we were walking to the room she told me the girls had not been baptized and weren’t sure they could participate. I told her how I got my granddaughters introduced to the communion service by explaining the service to them, as they grew able to understand and participate. Her girls watched us: she washed my feet (I’m elderly and can’t kneel) and I washed her hands. Then they participated. It was so sweet to see this learning experience, even to the prayers for each other.

The second time the lady I asked said she wasn’t able to wash feet but when I said we could wash hands she happily came. 

I found that when I was an elder and we visited homebound or hospitalized members for communion, that it was also important to do the washing (hands or feet) and they really appreciated it. My mother had not participated in communion for years, so when I was visiting her at the retirement home she was living in, I gathered together all the needed items for communion with her and we had our own private service. She realized then how much she had missed it.

A friend who worked at a mental hospital told me that people who participated in communion service regularly were less violent than those who did not. Also, when her father (a Baptist) was elderly and feeble, the pastor would come and remind him that the next week he would come and have communion with him. Reminding people and preparing them for communion is something we don’t often do at church. By doing it people can be prepared, and makes it easier for them to participate.

My 2 cents worth,
Peggy Harris

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The article referred to is part of a multi-part series. Read part 2 here. Read part 3 here.