God doesn't discriminate, and so shouldn't we. So now, a Church of England guidance is being issued to clergy suggesting that churches should try harder to make bald and overweight people feel welcome.
The book, called Everybody Welcome, published this week suggests that bald and overweight people should be regarded as worshippers with "special needs" alongside the blind, the deaf, breast-feeding mothers, very short people and readers of tabloid newspapers.
AdvertisementThe guidance is part of an initiative launched this week to make churches more friendly and less intimidating to newcomers in a bid to increase attendance at services.
However, it has also cautioned that bald people could be "in trouble from those overhead radiant heaters some churches have unwittingly installed" and that special arrangements may need to be made for people who are overweight.
"Some pew spaces and chairs are embarrassingly inadequate for what is known in church circles as 'the wider community'," the Telegraph quoted book as stating.
The book suggests that consideration should be given to recovering alcoholics who want to receive communion wine, and for those who "find loud noises from organs or music groups distressing".
The book, co-authored by the Ven Bob Jackson, Archdeacon of Walsall and one of the Church's leading experts on growth, and the Rev George Fisher, director of parish mission for the diocese of Lichfield, has also claimed that only one in ten church visitors return because existing worshippers tend to be so unwelcoming.
It asks churches to become more professional in their attitude to attracting newcomers and suggests they follow the example of department stores in appointing customer-care managers.