It was raucous Sunday as members of the Bibleway Community of Faith church began their first ever Barefoot Sunday. They sang song after Christian song, loud and with fervor.
Finally, a half-hour into the service, plastic wash tubs were filled with water and five children were asked to come forward to have their feet washed.
The idea of Sunday's Easter Service was to raise awareness of the 300 million children throughout the world who wake up each morning without a pair of shoes. It also drew attention to the 1 million who die every year because of diseases, infection and other maladies caused from not having proper footwear.
Barefoot Sunday was inspired in part by Martin Luther King Jr. and his dedication to service, said the Rev. Jeffrey Enlow Sr., Bibleway's pastor, who was in charge of washing the children's feet.
The church plans to have another Barefoot Sunday service in January to celebrate King's birthday. Sunday marked the 42nd anniversary of King's death.
More than 5,000 churches throughout the world, including six in Wichita, participated in Barefoot Sunday, Enlow said.
The churches worked with Samaritan's Feet, a nonprofit organization based in Charlotte, N.C.
Enlow was among several pastors who spent several hours recently with King's family members.
The goal of the organization was to raise enough money to put 1 million shoes on the feet of children around the world. Money will be used to buy, process, sort, warehouse, ship and distribute shoes to children in need.
Members of the Bibleway church were asked to take out their cell phones Sunday, dial, then pledge $10 for the cause.
The five children chosen to come forward at Bibleway were between the ages of 7 and 18. Each had their feet washed, dried and were presented with new shoes.
"Christ was about serving people," Enlow said. "It is a humbling, rewarding experience to wash someone else's feet. It is symbolic of what Christ did with his disciples."
Other Wichita churches participating in the Barefoot program were Iasis Christian Center, Kingdom Harvest Church, Greater Mizpah House of Faith, New Life Church and Abundant Life Ministries.
On Sunday, Enlow said he had never before washed another person's feet. He called the experience humbling.
"We believe that the pastor should be the greatest servant and should symbolically be trying to practice what Jesus did in the Scriptures," Enlow said.