In washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus demonstrated what it means to live out His mandate to love one another.

At St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, the congregation is living out this mandate in powerful and creative ways. Twice a year, members transform the church’s fellowship chapel into a free foot-care clinic. Local residents, many of whom are homeless, receive professional care from trained nurses.

Lynette Franklin, a clinical nurse specialist certified in wound care, is passionate about creating opportunities for church members to serve the community. Franklin recognized the plight of homeless men and women in her community who spend the majority of each day on their feet.

“You have no idea how painful ingrown toenails can be when you’re on your feet most of the day,” she says.

Franklin, a former nursing instructor at nearby Emory University, has arranged for Emory students to earn service credit while working at the clinic. When clients first arrive, they are treated to a warm-water soak using scented foot scrub prepared by members of the ladies’ ministry. A nurse then washes each client’s feet, towels them dry, and provides a thorough foot treatment. This includes nail trimming, callus removal, and treatment of topical issues such as mild infections and corns.

These clinics create service opportunities for church members of all ages. Children put together welcome packets that include socks, flip-flops, toiletries, samples of antifungal powder, and an invitation flyer. Youth members assemble bag lunches. Other church members are available to spend time visiting with and getting to know clients over lunch. For church members who are unable to serve at the event, Franklin prepares a comprehensive Scripture-guided prayer list to bathe the event in dedicated prayer.

After hosting 10 free clinics, St. Paul’s is seeing return visits from clients, and some have made connections within the church.

While the clinic is already a thriving ministry, Franklin dreams of having a free shoe store and portable showers. Beyond that, she’d like to see a clinic offering massage therapy, cosmetology, and chiropractic services. 

Tessa Pickren, a member of St. Paul’s, is grateful that her children are learning to serve the community in this way.

“It’s been a great ministry,” said Pickren. “Just seeing how many of these people never get a hug or a touch; it affects people who don’t get that on a daily basis.”

To connect with Lynette Franklin and learn more about the ministry, please contact St. Paul’s at stpaulsatlanta.com/visit/contact-us.

Illustration by Julian Rentzsch