A church in the United States is encouraging members of its congregation to attend services in the nude.
The congregants of a Southeastern Virginia church walk into the church fully dressed and immediately strip naked upon entry.
Addressing the media outside the Church last Sunday, Pastor Allen Parker, the leader of White Tail Chapel of Southampton, said he came to the decision to allow naked worship after concluding the clothing requirements of other churches were overly 'pretentious', and decided his own flock should be free to forgo such materialism if they desire.
“Nude worship provides an air of equality,” he said.
The Church leader said his decision is not without precedence, claiming many of the most important moments in the Bible happened while the protagonists were nude, including Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.
The chapel is on the grounds of the White Tail Nudist Resort in Ivor, Va., about 60 miles south of Richmond.
Ordinarily, many churchgoers feel pressure to dress in their Sunday best when they attend a worship service, but that concept is foreign to members of the congregation in the Virginia Church.
But although the nudity policy is not mandatory for all attendees, most members of the church have embraced it.
Those not so comfortable with total stripping would at times only go topless, or wear their undergarments.
Those who do strip down, though, say the experience is well worth the initial discomfort.
And in an interview with a local TV station last weekend, the pastor said he is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
“Some of the biggest moments in Jesus’ life were when he was naked,” said Mr Parker.
“When he was born, he was naked, when he was crucified he was naked and when he arose, he left his clothes in the tomb and he was naked. If God made us that way, how can that be wrong?” he wondered.
Hundreds of congregants have continued to brave the chilly winter weather on Sundays to listen to sermons at the unimposing chapel while thousands have been trooping to the compound on weekdays to take photos of the Church. More than 10,000 people visit the church each year.
Two members of the congregation who got married at the chapel, Robert and Katie Church, said they found the atmosphere welcoming.
“People are more open as far as hearing the word of God and speaking the word of God,” Mr Church said, adding; “There are people that have great means, great wealth while others don't. But you wouldn't know, and everybody treats everyone equally here. We are very happy as a Church family."