Foot washing at UCPC: Jesus’ lesson of service

Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church is following Jesus Christ’s command of service to others — by following His example of washing the feet of others.

As part of its Easter week services, UCPC members welcome the community to join in a foot-washing service beginning at 6 p.m., Maundy Thursday, April 13, in the church, 400 Everett Road at the corner of Everett and Smith roads in Farragut. The church also will give Communion.

“The Lord left a command for us to do that [foot-washing service] in the Bible, and very few people do it,” the Rev. Leonard Turner, pastor of UCPC, said. “I believe Jesus set that as a principle.

“It’s a service where men wash men’s feet and women wash women’s feet. It’s a time of asking for forgiveness from someone. It’s a time of humbling oneself to, maybe, someone you’ve had an argument with, to wash his or her feet. It’s a time of reconciliation.

“It’s something we all need in our Christian walk, but it’s something that has been ignored for years in most churches,” Turner added. “It’s hard to do. We don’t want to do anything hard. We want a free ride.”

The practice comes from John 13:14 in the New Testament. Just before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew the hour had come for Him to be crucified [recognized as Good Friday] then resurrected [Easter Sunday].

“They were pushing and shoving and arguing who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus girded himself with a towel and knelt and washed their feet like a common servant,” Turner said.

This New Testament passage then said Jesus, after washing His disciples’ feet, asked if they understood what He had done for them.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet,” Jesus said in the passage. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

“The Bible says do it, and I’m an old man now so I’m cramming for the finals here,” Turner said and laughed.

Turner, who has been senior pastor at UCPC for 44 years, said his church was one of those churches that did not practice the service until last year, when UCPC members Bernie and Lynda Fay, who previously were members of another denomination, asked, “Why don’t we do it?”

“I thought that was a good question,” he said. So Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church took up the service last year.

“Attendance wasn’t very big,” he said. “I think we had 25 here.”

This year, the Fays again will lead the service, Turner said.

During the service, Turner said the congregation will sing some songs and read scripture.

“Then, they’ll just ask for volunteers to come up,” Turner said. “Usually [Bernie Fay] will have someone get them started.”

Other Easter events include an Easter egg hunt starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 15, at the church. “We will do the Resurrection eggs,” he said. “My wife, Mary Jo, has been doing it for years.”

The church will hold a Sunrise Service starting at 7 a.m., Easter Sunday, April 16, on the church grounds, and traditional worship service at 11 a.m. “We will have breakfast for anybody, and the public is invited to that also,” Turner said. “We’re going to have the biggest crowd we have ever had at sunrise, I can tell you.”