Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Blytheville has for years practiced what its members call "the ordinance of foot washing." Believing Jesus' practice in John 13 is normative for the church today, baptized believers engage in the practice prior to taking the Lord's Supper. But recent complaints over the years have prompted a number of changes to take place in the church just recently.
The problem centers mainly around the large number of teenaged boys in the church, many of whom play sports for the local high school, and who often run barefoot on the weekends.
"It's absolutely disgusting" said Charles Pullen, one of Mt. Zion's deacons. "These boys sometimes come waltzing into church on Sunday night after shooting basketball all afternoon, then they go to taking their shoes off for foot washing and just about put half the church into a coma. A couple of weeks ago one boy came up in here in these sissy shoes that all them kids are wearing now called Crocs and looked like he had dirt baked into his feet. Nobody wanted to touch them nasty things, now that's the gospel truth."
Other members of Mt. Zion have expressed similar sentiments.
"One of them boys took off his shoes before we started and he looked like he'd walked barefoot through a coal mine" said Beatrice Villa, a member of Mt. Zion. "I would have needed a Brillo pad and some Comet to wash those things."
Finally enough members complained about the problem that the church's pastor, Billy Causey, and the deacons called a church meeting to address the problem. The church voted almost unanimously that any male member age 17 or under must first wash his own feet before coming to the foot washing ordinance.
"We've got to draw the line somewhere" said Causey. "I mean, I'm all for humility and service, but it's almost a health risk that we're talking about here."
While the majority of the church's members are pleased with the decision, some of the boys who prompted the action are not pleased.
"I think it's stupid" said Caleb Wynn. "I can't believe I have to wash my own feet first and only then can I go get my feet washed. Why even go?"
Causey did go on to further state that the resolution may only be temporary if the boys were to do their part. Until then the church has installed an extra sink for the boys to use before the service.