Lord, have mercy!
I used to have a full beard. In my first month at my former parish, I was informed by some neighbors in my apartment comlex that 'sand n****r terrorists' like me weren't welcome in that city. I let them know I was a priest, but somehow they weren't totally convinced.
And that's why I have a goattee nowadays....
Father, I have often meant to ask you why you don't have a full beard. Now I know. But consider this: wearing a full beard may be an outward sign of "bearing the Cross." If the Muslims are not afraid to wear full beards, then why should we Christians be afraid? (Not that you are afraid, for I know you to be a man of courage as you serve a parish in a dangerous part of town. But I just offer these words for consideration. Personally, whenever I see Priests with long, full beards I am encouraged. Also, I just think it looks cool.
Rastafarians are often persecuted for their dreadlocks. I know of Rastafarian prisoners who have been forced into years of solitary confinement because they refuse to cut their locks. Some of these Rastas are Orthodox Christians of the Ethiopian Church.
My point is this: Don't let the evils of this world or fear of persecution dictate whether or not you wear a beard. Do what you feel led to do. Do what you want to do if it in is the pursuit of glorifying God. Then trust that whatever consequences befall you will bring glory and honor to the cause of Our Lord.
On the other hand, wearing a long, full beard may be a source of spiritual or fleshly pride for some. The Rastas have a saying, "Dreadlocks grow in the heart, not on the head."
Please forgive me if I sound condescending or judgmental in any way. I dare not presume to give advice to a Priest, especially to one as wise, knowledgeable, and godly as you Father Chris. I like you just the way you are!
[Sorry, I forgot that this was the prayer forum. My prayers go out indeed to Father Alexios. "Lord Have Mercy."]