Since our church was founded in 1857, only 5 of the 18 pastors of our church did not sport a beard. Rev. Hardaway started the beardless trend in 1929 and he served until 1951. After Hardaway, only one pastor in our history had a beard and he came along in the 1980s.
The fellow pictured here was Dr. William E. Hatcher. Hatcher actually preached at our church on a couple of occasions in the late 1800s. As you can see, he sports a fine beard with mustache, but he was from Richmond, so that accounts for it, I suppose.
Here’s my analysis of my bearded pastoral predecessors:
- Most wore beards without mustaches.
- Most were really scary looking guys.
- Most are now dead. (Actually all of the bearded ones except the 1980s guy.)
- Nobody had a goatee or soulpatch.
Which brings me to my point — how many of you guys have facial hair? (I am purposely excluding the ladies here). Beard, mustache, goatee, peachfuzz, and so on all qualify. Did you grow your beard after you came to your church or did your arrive in full-bloom? What did your congregation think? Is there a difference in the reaction of older members verus younger members to your chin whiskers?
Beards and hair also have Biblical roots — Samson comes to mind, of course, and the vow of the Nazirites. Plucking out one’s own beard was a sign of lament and anguish (for real, I imagine), and having one’s beard plucked out was a sign of humiliation and disrespect. Beards and their grooming also have religious implications. Old German Baptist Brethren do not wear mustaches because that would be vain, but many grow chest-length beards. In Iran and Iraq, beards are a sign of manhood, and our troops have grown beards to win the hearts-and-minds of the locals.
Maybe beards will be the next big denominational crisis — beard-wearers against the clean-shavers — I can see it now.
As you can tell, this is a very slow news day, and I got to thinking about pastors and beards driving back from making hospital visits this afternoon. Maybe we’ll do tattoos next. Just a thought…