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New Creation Church, Hillsboro, Oregon: No Fatties Allowed on Worship Team


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:

Dress Code
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.

After this document was exposed and publicized, the church quickly removed it from their website. You can still read it here. New Creation is pastored by Rod & Rebecca Sundholm.

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!


  1. Avatar

    I thought immediately of my friend Zara, 20yo, with autism and downs syndrome. She goes on the church stage where her dad plays tuba every week and bashes a tambourine with wild abandon, grunting and drooling, she gets enormous pleasure from music in her shut-in world. Jesus would have her removed apparently.

  2. Avatar
    Reverend Greg

    I read this from the Church Curmudgeon: I remember when the pastor’s wife was huge and the sanctuary was smokin’ hot!’

  3. Avatar

    Hey Bruce,

    You might also find the following blog interesting:

    It’s of a fat woman, Ragen Chastain, who has no problems calling herself that, who dances. She’s had loads of comments on that: juries calling her ugly even if her performance was good and so on.

    She often calls companies and so forth out on their attitudes towards fat people. It’s worth taking a peek!

  4. Avatar

    I live fairly near… you can sleep on our couch and I’ll drive you and Polly to Sunday services.
    Let me know when your plane is coming in, one of us will come to the airport to get you.

  5. Avatar

    New Creation (sic) Church can go fuck themselves silly with their ignurnt rules. Why any sane human being would expose themselves to such abuse is often beyond me until I realize how religion harms us from birth on in our lives and we begin to expect this kind of harm being done. It is the only language that works for us… very sad that we are collectively blind to just how damaged we are and how religion is the uniform of abuse. Tax free too? Jeebus, what a scam.

  6. Avatar

    This is simply because their very existence is based in the need to harm self and others. In Canada, the active plan to harm yourself or another person wins you a Form 9, a forced assessment by a doc, someone who is at least a pyschiatric resident. But we live in a world where fear and hatred has done such damage collectively that the most powerful nation in the world elects a brute who will undo all decency regarding gender equality and who will destroy the gains we have slowly made in recognizing climate change and addressing it.
    In one of Margaret Atwood’s early books of poetry, she writes a line that is addressed to a lover:

    You fit into me
    like a hook into an eye

    a fish hook
    an open eye

    It seems to me that Americans who have loved their country all their lives feel like this now regarding the election of Trump to the Whitehouse. Atwood ends her poem with a two-edged slash, abruptly ending,

    Please die so I can write about it.

  7. Avatar
    J.D. Matthews

    “It’s just so taken out of context” is evangelical-speak for “you’ve caught me in some bullshit that I can’t wiggle out of.”

  8. Avatar

    We went to church with a guy who was skinny because of genetics. He was half Irish and got the small stature from that combination. He worked construction, yet never needed to eat much, because he physically couldn’t. Not to say that, over the years, he didn’t put on a little weight, but that only made him look healthy.

    He was the first Christian fat-shamer I ever knew. I was the only overweight guy at church and remembered feeling picked on when he started up with that crap. He said it was wickedness to eat too much. Our time and money were better spent on other things.

    He was a miserly guy, too. When my brother worked for him, he would go to Taco Bell and buy a 3 taco meal to split, for lunch. He complained about feeding the 15 year old boy that he was working like a slave.

    Come potluck dinners, though, he would put away his fair share, and then some. His two adopted boys would eat like refugees. He didn’t mind people eating too much food when it wasn’t his dime. Once, my brother was staying at his house while working. He took my brother and his boys to McDonald’s for lunch. He bought them each a kids meal. When my brother got out money to buy extra food (he had learned his lesson), he made my brother buy everyone a large fry. Being trained as we were, my brother didn’t dare refuse.

    • Avatar

      Sorry that you were bullied by that asshole, Ian. Interesting that the glorious salvation from Jeebers doesn’t do a damned thing to change how people really are, their personal problems. They just dress them up in religio-terms and go on, full-bore. Christianity is designed to harm and does a mighty good job of it. Religion did not start the bullying and it sure doesn’t end it. What it does is offer a tax-free template to carry on as an asshole.

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Bruce Gerencser