Friday, February 21, 2014

Shoe Removal in Christian Churches


Russian Orthodox Church in Phuket, Thailand



For the most part, Christian churches do not practice removing shoes in places of worship as they do in Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism. In the west, it is not the custom for Christians to remove their shoes in churches (though Roman Catholics go barefoot at some shrines and have historically gone barefoot as a penance). Some of the non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches, the Ethiopians and Copts remove shoes in their churches.

As Christianity has spread to Asia, many churches founded in Asian countries have followed the local custom of removing shoes, whether out of habit, reverance or simple practicality. This crosses denominational lines; when I went to Japan, I visited a Roman Catholic, an Anglican, a mainstream Protestant church and several Evangelical Protestant churches. Removing shoes was required in all of them.

I was recently reading about Eastern Orthodox missions in Asia. It seems that Russian and Greek Orthodox churches in Asia tend to adopt removing shoes in those countries. I suppose that rather fits with the strong sense of reverence in Eastern Orthodox worship.

26 comments:

Jen said...

During the recent bad weather we went to church and I left my wellies at the back and went in socks for the service.

Jen.

Paul said...

Jen - this was really nice and thoughtful of you. Did anyone follow your example?

Elain Smith said...

when I was growing up in western Canada, I recall as a child when we went to church the women and children were required to enter the chapel in stockinged feet, it was a Lutheran church,upon my confirmation the boys in the class ere allowed to wear their shoes, although we went to the same class and were confirmed at the same time us girls still had to go in stockinged feet, it was in the 60s and I have long since quit going but there it is for what its worth, and no I never asked why its just the way it was as far back as I can remember.

Matthew Celestis said...

They assumed the girls would be wearing heels which would damage the floor?

Elain Smith said...

like I said I am not sure, but I do recall my mother telling female guests brought to a service in the the narthex she would inform the females "we can leave our shoes here" and the would just slip them off and pad into the chapel in stockinged feet.it wasn't a big deal,and having grown up with it I just thought it was normal.

Elain Smith said...

like I said I am not sure, but I do recall my mother telling female guests brought to a service in the the narthex she would inform the females "we can leave our shoes here" and the would just slip them off and pad into the chapel in stockinged feet.it wasn't a big deal,and having grown up with it I just thought it was normal.

Jen said...

I made sure my son and daughter left their wellies at the back as well.
I also wore wellies to work and went in socks too- I work for a bank.

Bob said...

In the Armenian Apostolic Church the priests and deacons all wear slippers on the altar> I believe the reason is to preserve the carpetts

Sandro said...

Jen, what about other visitors in the church?

Elain Smith said...

I don't know about Jens church, but I remember we used to have greeters and they would greet the people in stockinged feet, when guests came the were just informed where they could leave their coats and shoes and when the women saw them in stockinged feet they just new they would have to remove theirs,there was never an issue or any problem with it,and there may have been some who brought friends that told them that there were no heels in the chapel,but am not sure of that.

Sandro said...

Elain, I think since women were in their stockinged feet, it'd have been good manners for the men to remove their shoes as well.

Elain Smith said...

Sandro,I am not sure it was a matter of manners since the males were allowed to wear their shoes upon confirmation,and we had to go to the ceremony in stockinged feet, like I stated before none of the women ever complained about it it was the 60s and things were different back then,even the women in the choir were in stockinged feet as well as the organist but I think it made it easier for her to play the organ.

Sandro said...

Elain, I just think it's twice impolite to bring dirt on shoes when somebody else picks it onto their stockinged feet.

Paul said...

Jen - it was nice of you to make sure your children took off their wellies too.

As for the bank where you work - has anyone asked you there why you were shoeless?

Jen said...

Paul - we live on a farm and when the weather's bad my shoes get mucky just going to the car.

That's why I wore wellies to work.
I decided rather than carrying shoes basck and for just to go stocking footed. A few people have commented but no one has compalined.

Paul said...

Jen,

This made sense. Since you got no negative comments do you think you will continue working in stocking feet when the weather is bad? How do you normly dress for work?

Jen said...

Yes - carrying on at the moment.

Paul said...

Jen - what is the dress code like where you work, and are your feet warm when you have no shoes on? You are wearing socks, right?

Jen said...

Why is this an issue - does it really matter if I work in socks!!

Paul said...

Jen - I was asking because some companies have dress codes, and thus are likely to frown upon employees working in their stocking feet.

Jen said...

I have a uniform, but no one has complained - had'nt really thought about it

Paul said...

Jen -- got it. Do you prefer changing from wellies to shoes or just taking your wellies off and working in your stocking feet?

Jen said...

Just going in stockinged feet. If not I would have shoes with me!1

Paul said...

Jen - sounds like you are very comfortable and keeping the floors clean, and a lot of your coworkers probably wish they could follow your example. Where do you keep your wellies, and are your feet warm while you are working?

ben kunjacko said...

Hai iam an Indian Orthodox church member my church strictly banned footwear inside the church from ancient time onwards. Because church is holy.god said to moses to remove his sandals because he was standing in a holy place.

Matthew Celestine said...

Hi Ben, it is a very worthy custom.