There were no signs saying "No Shoes, No Service" Sept. 26 at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Rev. Michael D. Moore, St. Elizabeth's rector, invited churchgoers to leave their shoes at home and bring a pair to donate. "Barefoot Sunday" was designed to show how millions around the world live without shoes on a daily basis, according to a press release from the parish.
Estimates reveal that 300 million children around the world don't own a pair of shoes, the release said, adding that it was "a sad irony ... that Americans threw away the same number of shoes into landfills last year alone."
The parish decided to partner with Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity and two local charities to offer shoes to people in Jacksonville and around the world.
"The mission of 'Barefoot Sunday,' also known as All Soles Day is a simple one -- to collect new and gently worn shoes to donate to victims of natural disasters and those living in poverty," Moors said in the release. "We want to change the world by providing shoes -- one pair at a time. This mission outreach is a tangible way to share the love of God within our community and the world."
Some 275 pairs of shoes were collected, representing six pairs of shoes for every adult who participated in the service.
"Not wearing shoes in church was a first for me, but it made me stop and think of those without," Altar Guild chair Linda Hargraves said in the release.