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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #1, Page #21
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Hats Stay On At Cowboy Church

Hats can stay on and the collection plate is a feed bucket at the Cowboy Church service held at the Methodist Church in Cherry Grove, Minn.
All over the country, horse lovers, their friends and others are attending cowboy churches. A big draw is the informality. "People don't put on airs at a cowboy church," says Pastor Mark Rader, in Cherry Grove. "You can come from the barn or the pasture. Just wipe your boots off at the door. Men don't usually take off their hats, but some just can't bear to leave them on. I think they hear their mom's voice whispering in their ear."
At the Sac River Cowboy Church, held at a livestock auction barn in Sac River, Mo., Reverend Scotty Killingsworth keeps his hat on when he preaches. "We have a lot of music, mostly bluegrass, involved in the service," he says. "If you like church, you'll like the cowboy church. If you don't like church, you'll love cowboy church."
While the locations differ, there are some similarities among cowboy church services across the country. Sermons are usually related to horses in some way, says Rader, who owns 8 horses himself. Initially, Cherry Grove services ended with presentations on everything from endurance racing to a breeder talking about getting mares ready for spring breeding season.
"In recent months we've dropped the horseman talks in favor of more music beforehand and a fellowship hour afterwards," says Rader. "We have several musicians who do some contemporary and Christian country, Southern gospel and, of course, cowboy music. Music and worship are the draw. Afterward, people have an opportunity to talk about their horses with others and listen to more music. It's a real interesting mix of folks."
Killingsworth is one of three preachers who volunteer their time at the Mo. Cowboy Church. He is a fulltime pastor at a nearby 1,800-member Baptist church. "I get to see people who never get to Sunday morning church," he says. "After attending for a while, they find they need more, and soon some start going to local churches."
The movement has been around for 40 years, but has really picked up speed in recent years. No single religious organization can lay claim to the idea. However, more than 140 have been started in Texas in the past 9 years by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The Cowboy Church of Ellis County was the first and has grown from 300 to 2,300 in that time.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Cherry Grove Methodist Church, 18183 160th St., Spring Valley, Minn. 55975 (ph 507 346-2830; faithpas@centurytel.net) or Pastor Scott Killingsworth, Evergreen Church, 3225 N. Farm Road 123, Springfield, Mo. 65803 (ph 417 833-8309; scottykworth@gmail.com).
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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #1