Vicars should grow BEARDS to reach out to Muslims in their areas, says Bishop of London
- Rt Rev. Richard Chartres praised two priests who had grown bushy beards
- Applauded their desire to reach out to the ‘majority of their parishioners’
- Bishop described his own beard, which he grew in the 1970s, as modest
- He also said ‘saint’ David Beckham encouraged men to grow facial hair
Clergymen should grow beards to emphasise their holiness to Muslims, the Bishop of London has suggested.
Rt Reverend Richard Chartres said the modern fashion for facial hair should not be the preserve of hispters, but would also be likely to impress those from Eastern cultures where wearing a beard could mark a man out as holy.
He singled out two priests in Tower Hamlets – the Rev. Adam Atkinson, Vicar of St Peter’s church in Bethnal Green, and Rev. Cris Rogers of All Hallows Bow – who have grown bushy beards.
Writing in the Church Times, Rev. Chartres, who himself sports a ‘modest’ beard, said: ‘The discovery that two of the most energetic priests in east London had recently grown beards of an opulence that would not have disgraced a Victorian sage prompted me to look again at the barbate debate throughout Church history.
‘The two priests work in parishes in Tower Hamlets. Most of the residents are Bangladeshi-Sylheti, for whom the wearing of a beard is one of the marks of a holy man.’
He said the desire of the clergy of Tower Hamlets to ‘reach out to the culture of the majority of their parishioners can only be applauded’.
He went on to say that David Beckham – who he describes as the ‘nearest thing to a secular saint’ – has ‘stimulated countless imitators’.
One of the priests praised by the Bishop of London, the Rev. Atkinson told The Telegraph he found having a beard had helped provide a connection with many people in his parish, around 85 per cent of whom are Muslim.
He said he was persuaded to grow a beard by the staff at his local pub, the Hound Dog Barbers on Hackney Road.
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