Beards are no longer confined to those excoriated by their opponents as 'trendy lefties' and websites offer a gallery of suggestions for the modern male of all ages—Rt Rev Richard Chartres
A leading bishop in the UK has said vicars should grow beards to engage with the Muslim community.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, praised vicars in the east end of London, which has a largely Bangladeshi Muslim population, who grew facial hair.
He indicated that the current fashion for beards helped the Church form links with local communities.
Writing in the 'Church Times', he said the vicars in Tower Hamlets, east London "represented a new way to (connect with) the culture of the majority of their parishioners".
The Bishop wrote: "Beards are no longer confined to those excoriated by their opponents as 'trendy lefties' and websites offer a gallery of suggestions for the modern male of all ages".
"The clergy of Tower Hamlets are safe from episcopal censure, and their desire to reach out to the culture of the majority of their parishioners can only be applauded," he wrote.
One of the priests complimented by the Bishop the Rev Adam Atkinson, Vicar of St Peter's church in Bethnal Green said he was encouraged to grow his beard as "an icebreaker".
"It is an icebreaker St Paul said 'I become all things to all men that by all possible means I might save some'. In our area there are three main groups, the poor, the 'cool' and the Muslims and beards cover at least two groups reasonably well," the priest said.
"A Muslim friend said 'I will lend you a hat and you can join me on Friday (prayers). It was done in a jokey way but it was quite affirming."