Forget dressing up in their Sunday best. Most of the parishioners at White Tail Chapel show up in their birthday suits.
The small Southampton, Va. church caters to avid nudists who worship and read scripture each week in the buff.
The uncommon environment at White Tail isn’t actually new, Rev. Allen Parker told TheBlaze. The church has been around since the 1980s.
Parker, who has been leading services there since 2006, has no official seminary training, though he says he has years of experience leading Bible studies and small groups.
Joining in on the extra layer of freedom the house of worship offers, he preaches naked from the pulpit every Sunday, delivering life lessons and teachings deeply rooted in the Christian tradition.
“The idea of a church service rose out of the belief that Christians need to meet together in love and share the celebration of worship together, like most churches start,” Parker said.
The difference, of course, is that most churches would never allow nudity as White Tail does.
As far as the congregation’s theology goes, Parker said that the church, which meets on land owned by the White Tail Resort, a nudist destination, is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, but that his preaching is rooted in the Bible’s teachings.
“Our firm belief is in God, the creator of all and the heavenly father [and] protector to all of us,” he said. “We believe he sent his son for our sake, as the only truly acceptable sacrifice. He is our salvation and our mentor.”
He added, “Our mission is to serve God and the community around us, to love our neighbors as ourselves and to be an example of what God means to the world.”
As a nudist, Parker said the biggest misconception outsiders have about White Tail Chapel is that the church is “about being naked.”
On the contrary, the pastor said, the church is focused on “the work of the father” and that nakedness is simply natural for its members.
To those who might call it inappropriate or even un-Christian to conduct church without clothing, Parker has a message.
“To those Christians, it isn’t their mission,” he said. “Like I probably don’t understand their mission, I can’t expect them to understand what God led us to.”
Despite the media attention White Tail Chapel has been given in recent days, Parker said that the church isn’t looking for controversy and that many of its members aren’t comfortable being public.
But he said they felt that God had a message for them to portray, so members have come out of their comfort zones.
“The message isn’t aimed at converting Christians to nudism, but to allow the world of Christians who are nudists to know they are not alone, that God is with them and that there are other Christian nudists out here,” he said.
Parker added, “This unique place is less about what we wear on the outside, but the love we are clothed in on the inside.”
Featured image via WNYT-TV.