The New Creation Church in Hillsboro, Oregon, announced on Oct. 17 that it is rewriting its rules against "excessive weight" for its worship leaders.
The church apologized for offending people after the rules were reported by The Christian Post on Oct. 14.
The church's guidelines reportedly stated: "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."
The rules also called for a worship leader to be "in 100 percent agreement for you to flow with our team and in order for the anointing to flow through you," adding, "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," notes The Christian Post.
In response, the church blamed the "false media" for the public outcry over the guidelines on Oct. 17:
There has been some false media circulating about our Worship Team Guidelines claiming that we don't allow overweight people on our platform, which is untrue. We apologize for any misunderstandings that our guidelines have caused.
These guidelines have never been used to discriminate against or fat-shame anyone. We understand the wording on our guidelines have been misinterpreted, thus they are being reviewed and changed. Forgive us if we offended anyone. That certainly was not our intention. Our church is a church full of love and compassion for others. We are a diverse church with all ages, races and sizes and love people with the love of Jesus.
Pastor Rebecca Sundholm told Oregon Live on Oct. 6 that she was "dumbfounded" by the controversy because the guidelines had been on her church's website for a long time.
"What's funny is this has nothing to do with anybody else but our church," Sundholm told the news site. "If anybody looked at our worship team, they would see they aren't all skinny. In fact, the worship leader has weight issues."
According to Sundholm, the worship leader wrote the guidelines years ago, and "those guidelines aren't even enforced anymore."
Sundholm noted, "We have standards just like anybody would have standards in a business. Don't come to church with wet hair; if you wear makeup, put it on. It's not negative."
According to Oregon Live, the guidelines also said:
A submissive attitude is very important among the worship team members. Speaking against the leadership will not be tolerated...
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.
In the Bible, John 7:24 states: "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."