Saturday, April 12, 2014

Polite Request on a Church Website

Yesterday Southpark Christian Church, a Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, posted a notice on their website:

THIS SUNDAY is Palm Sunday!
Due to our new parking lot and our new carpet in the sanctuary, we ask that you please remove your shoes before entering the sanctuary for worship. Not only will this help to not track in black asphalt, but it will remind us that we are in a sacred space as we worship together and hopefully encounter God in new and meaningful ways.
Have no worries if you are unable to remove your shoes. We ask that those who are able, help us out with this request. Thank you for your cooperation. Please do not let this keep you from worshiping with us. We hope to see you there.

I am impressed that the elders of this church had the confidence to ask for this. Wanting to keep the carpets clean is a legitimate concern. So many churches have worn out and filthy carpets. A preacher I knew once suggested that all churches should have wood floors, but he was clearly unaware of how much noise would be generated by scraping and traffic on a hard floor.

Notice that the church says this is not mandatory. They are not going to expect elderly or disabled people to remove their shoes. A church can do this without penalizing people who are unable to comply.

I also find this interesting that this request was made by a church in the American South where there is no tradition of shoe removal.

57 comments:

Kelly said...

This is a bit strange of a request, especially here in the South. Do the church elders expect people to go in stocking feet or to bring their indoor shoes?

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks for visiting.

I doubt they would object if people brought a change of shoes.

Mat said...

Please forgive me for going off this particular topic but I've just remembered something that is relevant to the blog. I suddenly recalled that in junior school, in the mid to late 70's we had to take slippers or pumps to change into. I'd completely forgotten that outdoor shoes were not permitted. This rule however did not include the latter years of junior school and certainly didn't continue into high school. That's a shame as good habits like shoe removal are best started young. My two year old nephew is already stopping to kick off his shoes when he enters the house!

Matthew Celestis said...

Yeah, quite a few schools have that policy. I went to one for a short period.

Kelly said...

I must add that I would not remove my shoes in this situation, nor do I know anyone else who would do that. It is just not the done thing here in the south.

Matthew Celestis said...

I do wonder how it went down.

Bob said...

While not quite the same as removing shoes in the Sanctuary, this past weekend my wife participated in an event held at the preschool of a local Church. The participants were all asked to remove their shoes as many of the toddlers play on the floor.

Matthew Celestis said...

Very good

Kelly said...

Bob, did the participants bring clean shoes to change to or did they go in their stocking feet?

Bob said...

Kelly, My wife did not know before hand about the no shoes rule and I assume that the others didn't either she participated in stocking feet and the others probably did as well.

Kelly said...

Bob, I wonder how many people complied with the request - it does sound very unusual to take off your shoes in a public place like this. I assume everyone was dressed up so it probably felt strange to be shoeless?

Bob said...

Kelly, As my wife did not mention anyone objecting I am sure that all the women complied. As a general rule it would be odd to have to go shoeless in a somewhat public place, however, given that the space is primarily used for childcare the shoe prohibition seems reasonable. As it was a Sunday people were dressed up a bit, at least my wife and her friends were. As my wife and her friends adhere to no shoes in the house it did not feel strange to them. How others felt I have no idea

Kelly said...

Bob, I think it was nice of your wife and other women to comply with the request and take off their shoes even in a semi-public place. Also it seems like your wife and her friends are ok walking around in their stocking feet. But do you think this request would make others uncomfortable if they are not used to shoes off at home? Also I assume that all women had their stockings on; going barefoot in an indoor public place is not healthy because of the athletic foot potential issues.

Matthew Celestis said...

Kelly, the risk of catching Athlete's Foot on a floor are actually quite minimal. Athlete's Foot tends to be contracted in damp, humid conditions. I'm sure the floor in question was clean and dry.

Kelly said...

Matthew - understood, but this is not what my podiatrist says. I had athlete's foot before and am now very careful about where I walk around without shoes on. In a public place like this one, I would have kept my shoes on if I were not forewarned about the policy (otherwise I would bring clean shoes with me.)

Matthew Celestis said...

I think podiatrists in the USA tend to give stricter, more risk-averse advice than those in the UK.

Kelly said...

Matthew - you might be right. Anyway, I would not go barefoot indoors outside of my own home, and even then I try to be careful.

Bob said...

Kelly,
I really can't answer your question about how others might feel, some might feel awkward and others not. It would depend on the individual.
My wife and her friends were wearing stockings. I know this because my wife invited five of them over after the event .

Kelly said...

Bob - thank you! Since your house is shoe-free I assume your wife's friends went around in their stockings for most of the day (first in the church and then at your home.) Do you think they provided some kind of peer pressure for other ladies who were at the church event and might have been hesitant to take their shoes off? Once again, I think it was nice of them to comply with the request.

Bob said...

Kelly, I have no idea if they asserted any peer pressure at the day care center. there were six of them and probably 35 to 40 women in total at the event. Yes Kelly when they arrived they all removed their shoes in the foyer.

Kelly said...

Bob - your wife's friends probably served as a good example to the rest of the women although I can bet that at least some kept their shoes on. Do you know the age group of the ladies there? Also, I doubt it that the request was sensible given that women's dressy shoes probably were clean.

Bob said...

Kelly, I have no idea if anyone refused the request. The age group was probably mid 30's to early 50's. The people who made the request thought it reasonable and the people who attended did so as well or they would have left

Matthew Celestis said...

Kelly, do you think perhaps your phobia of removing shoes is perhaps something that most people do not share?

You seem to want to imply that many of Bob's friends might have this discomfort, a thesis that does not appear to be supported by the evidence.

People should be understanding of your phobia, but you do need to acknowledge thst most people do not share it.

Kelly said...

Matthew - do you see the difference between taking your shoes off in someone's house (while being dressed casually) and taking them off in a public place, such as a church daycare center, while being all dressed up? While I am uncomfortable with both, I would be much more uncomfortable with the latter. Surely the women there did not relish taking off their dressy shoes (an integral part of their outfit) and walking around in their stockings.

Matthew Celestis said...

I understand the difference, but I think less people would be bothered about it than you seem to think.

You assume that these women did not relish removing their shoes, but I am not sure that is as likely as you think.

A year ago, a machine was installed in the public foyer of the hospital in which I work. It tested people's body mass. I saw plenty of women removing their shoes before stepping on this machine.

They did not seem embarrassed to remove their shoes in public or worried about putting their feet where others had been.

I think you are projecting your own discomfort onto others who may not feel that way.

Kelly said...

Matthew - you might be right that I am uncomfortable removing my shoes anywhere outside of my own home and especially in a public place, but I am not convinced it is just me who has this kind of discomfort. As for the body mass machine, I am sure that some people wanted to have their weight measured as precisely as possible, so their coats and shoes came off. I am sure it was not mandatory though.

Candace said...

Kelly, My husband Bob showed me this exchange and I hope that you don't mind my responding. Do I relish taking off my shoes when requested, no I don't but I certainly don't mind nor do I feel in the least bit uncomfortable doing so. I willing remove them out of respect for the hosts rules. To me it is no different than removing my coat. While I have never discussed it with my girl friends I am quite sure that they feel the same way when they visit our home or they would not return. To be completely fair about it I do have one friend who visits regularly and she always has a pair of foldable slippers in her purse that she slips on when she visits. All other guests go about our home shoeless. No doubt there are others who feel as you do but I have not come across them.

Kelly said...

Candace, I appreciate your reply. Does it make a difference for you whether you are all dressed up, or whether you are in a somewhat public place, such a daycare center, if you are asked to remove your shoes? I also wonder whether my desire to keep my shoes on is highly unusual and whether any lady kept her shoes on at your preschool gathering Bob mentioned.

Thank you,

Kelly

Candace said...

Kelly, How I am dressed or where I am makes no difference. I feel that the polite thing to do is to comply with a hosts request as I am entering their space. I have no idea why you are adverse to taking your shoes off. I cannot say with 100% certainty but every women at the event removed her shoes.

Kelly said...

Candace - I see, apparently the women there were thoughtful. Where were your shoes stored there and weren't your feet cold with just stockings on? One of the reasons why I prefer shoes on is to keep my feet warm and protected - and not exposed to the world.

Candace said...

Kelly yes we were thoughtful. there were cubbies for the shoes and no I was not cold.

Kelly said...

Candace - what was the floor like? Was it carpeted? Was there any bench to sit down and take your shoes off? Were you comfortable in your stocking feet?

Candace said...

Kelly, I am at a loss as to these questions are of interest, but I will answer them
1) The entryway was carpeted. The main room was highly polished hardwoods. I believe that the put down soft mats when the children are present
2)I think there was a bench but I did not sit. I stepped out of my shoes picked them up and put them in a cubby.
3)I never thought about it so yes I was comfortable

Kelly said...

Candace - thank you for the answers! I find it a bit strange that they made you take off your shoes even though the soft mats were not there. To me, it would be a very strange request. Also, didn't your feet slide on the hardwood floor?

Candace said...

Kelly, I apologize for not responding sooner but I was playing bridge last evening.
I must ask you how the questions that you posed advance this discussion. Strange or not their venue their rules. Most people are capable of walking on a hardwood floor without slipping

Matthew Celestis said...

Candace, I do appreciate your taking the time to comment here. Many thanks.

You play Bridge? My mother is a great Bridge enthusiast.

Matthew Celestis said...

I am tempted to introduce a rule to say one can only ask three questions on a comment thread, but I don't want to inhibit discussion.

Kelly, Candace appears a little bewildered as to where you are going with your questions and I think I am too.

You don't like taking your shoes off. Fine, we will all do our best to accommodate that should we ever meet you, though Bob and Candace and myself might expect you to bring some slippers or a change of shoes should you show up at the door. Having stated your reluctance to remove your shoes, I'm not sure where else the discussion can go from here.

Candace said...

Matthew, You are quite welcome.
Yes I very much enjoy playing bridge. There are times when I play two and even sometimes three nights a week and occasional on the weekend as well. Bob plays as well but we rarely play together as we have found it can put a strain on our marriage!

Matthew Celestis said...

My mother used to complain about my father not being interested in Bridge. She eventually persuaded him to learn to play, but he does not play all that often.

Kelly said...

I think some people make others take their shoes off just to show who is in charge. Not a very hospitable thing to do, IMHO.

Also, shoes make us all look better, so at indoor social events (except perhaps private homes) it is considered to be good manners to keep shoes on. Finally, some people, like myself, just don't like going barefoot or in stocking feet. I like it when I am warned about the no-shoe policies so that I can at least bring a clean pair to change into. If you force me out of my shoes and I slip on your hardwood floor and injure myself, I will take a legal action against you. Plain and simple.

Matthew Celestis said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion with us, Kelly.

Candace said...

Kelly, I apologize for belaboring this topic but I wanted to share a real life situation.
Last evening I went to someone's home to play bridge. It was raining slightly. I walked to the door and was invited in. Once inside I could see that the woman had light carpeting. I toed off my flats and placed them on a mat by the door. Why did I do this, not because I was asked...I wasn't...I did it because it was the polite thing to do.

Kelly said...

Candace, this was a polite thing to do, I just wonder whether you knew the hostess well. If you did not, would you feel awkward walking around shoeless around her?

Elain Smith said...

I think perhaps Kelly is not comfortable going in her stocking feet,and may not have grown up where it was required,I for one as a Canadian was brought up in stockinged feert and have no problems removing my shoes I do wear opaque tights for that very reason,I stated in the last thread when i was young females were not permitted to wear foot wear within the chapel,so we all had to go in stocking feet,which not to many women here seem to mind,and I must disagree with kelly about the comment of looks I think women look very nice when in stocking feet in a home or Drs office or work place. when i worked in a office it was a requirement and if you have no issues then you just work in stocking feet and it is much more comfortable.

Candace said...

Kelly, I had not been to her home before and no I did not know her well.

Sandro said...

Candace and Bob, where do you live if it's not a secret?) Is it common to remove shoes in your area? Thank you)

Matthew Celestis said...

Sandro, surely you have been visiting and commenting here long enough to know where Bob lives!

I'm sure he knows where you live by now.

Have a nice day.

Bob said...

Sandro, we live in southeastern US. No it is not common but many of our friends follow this rule

Sandro said...

Thank you, Bob ) I apologise for the short memory of mine.

Matthew Celestis said...

Does Bob remember where Sandro is from? :)

You both started commenting roughly around the same time.

Bob said...

Sandro there is no need to apologize as I have to admit that I have forgotten where you live as well.
However I do believe that you reside in an Eastern European country

Sandro said...

Georgia )

Sandro said...

The one in the Caucasus )

Bob said...

LOL!!! Sandro

Sandro said...

:)

Kelly said...

I am from the same area as Bob; taking shoes off outside of one's own home is really considered weird here. Especially when you are at someone else's house and you don't know that person very well. I must also add that for many years, going barefoot meant you could not afford shoes, and that mentality stuck here. So, like me, like my shoes, please don't undress me against my wishes.

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