New Creation Church in Hillsboro, Oregon thinks maintaining a certain image and look is vitally important. To further this end, church leadership established certain qualifications for worship team participants:
Our main goal is to look professional and our dress should always be modest, as we are not only representing Christ, but Pastor and New Creation Church.
- Clothing must be clean, sharp and ironed. No clashing colors.
- Appropriate shoes must be worn at all times. i.e. No sneakers, tennis shoes, flip flops or shoes with white soles.
- We want the worship team to look the best they can! Remember that the way we look is of utmost importance. We are the first thing the congregation sees. People do judge by appearance. We never get a second chance to make that first impression. Please be sure that your style and clothing bring honor and glory to God, isn’t excessive and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
- Dress is to be smart casual. This means nice pants or dressy jeans with blouses or sweaters, and/or jackets for women and nice collared dress shirts for men. Tennis Shoes, sneakers, flip flops, and shoes with white soles are not allowed.
Grooming and Hygiene
- Hair must be washed, nicely groomed and kept neat and clean; no sloppy hairdos or excessively wild styles that draw undue attention.
- No excessive piercings, or visible tattoos.
- Ladies, put your make-up on before you get to church. If wearing a skirt, nylons are suggested. No tight shirts, low cut shirts or tummy’s showing. All skirts must be below the knee.
- No excessive colognes or perfumes.
- Bodies must be clean and use of effective deodorant is essential to positive interpersonal relationships.
- Remember also that breath mints are available in the bookstore. Please use them! No gum during services.
- No Excessive weight. Weight is something that many people have to deal with. Make sure that you are taking care of your temple, exercising and eating properly. [emphasis mine]
- Remember that as a music minister people look up to you. Your life must exemplify one of excellence in all areas; spirit, soul and body.
Please read this carefully and examine yourself regularly as to your commitment in this area of service. If you do not meet the standards set forth in these guidelines, you will disqualify yourself as a part of the Worship Team.
The Oregonian picked up this story and called the church for a response. Here’s what The Oregonian had to say:
New Creation Church Pastor Rebecca Sundholm says that the guidelines had been on the website for a long time and she said she was “dumbfounded” by the controversy.
“What’s funny is this has nothing to do with anybody else but our church,” said Sundholm over the phone Thursday. “If anybody looked at our worship team, they would see they aren’t all skinny.”
“In fact,” she added, “the worship leader has weight issues.”
Sundholm said the worship leader wrote the guidelines years ago — the church is 28 years old — and that, “those guidelines aren’t even enforced anymore.”
Still, she said, “We have standards just like anybody would have standards in a business.”
“Don’t come to church with wet hair; if you wear make-up, put it on,” she said. “It’s not negative.
But Sundholm thinks that these commenters don’t really understand her church, since she assumes none of them have actually attended services.
“It’s ridiculous really,” she said. “It’s just so taken out of context.”
Fat-shaming is a common problem in certain corners of the Evangelical world. The larger churches become, the more they concern themselves with their image. Wanting to attract a successful, moneyed clientele, these Evangelical religious corporations go to great lengths to advertise that their businesses are where the hip and cool people hang out. Fat people who dare to attend such churches are often reminded that being overweight is a sin, a sign that you are given over to appetite and gluttony.
Let me say in closing, not all Evangelical churches have a problem with fat people. Fat-shaming tends to be a larger/mega-church problem. Small churches, already cannibalized by spiffy, entertainment oriented megachurches, are often filled with untouchables, including those who are look like contestant hopefuls for The Biggest Loser. Baptists tend to be quite okay with obesity. Gluttony is the only sin Baptists are allowed to commit.
Too bad I don’t live closer to New Creation. I might be inclined to put on biker shorts, black socks, and dress shoes — sans shirt — and picket the church’s Sunday services. Picture THAT for a moment, readers!