this month, the Chicago Tribune newspaper sent a reporter to
church — four hundred kilometers away in the little town of Mount Vernon, in
it was no ordinary house of worship.
The congregation meets in a riding arena, normally home to horse shows
and rodeos where bulls and bucking broncos toss cowboys into the dust. Its name is the New Frontier Cowboy Church.
this cowboy and cowgirl — church, the minister preaches from the saddle. He wears a big,— white, ten-gallon hat like
the hero in western movies. All hats
come off during prayer, of course. And
one of them gets passed around the bleachers when it comes time to collect the
weekly cash offering.
are more than 600 cowboy churches across America, meeting in arenas, barns, and
out in the open in state fairgrounds.
There's even an online directory of some of these homespun churches.
the service, according to the Tribune article, Preachers tell
corny jokes. Worshipers whoop, holler
and clap. The bands jam with banjos,
mandolins, guitars, drums and sometimes a worn washboard. It's not unusual to be baptized in a horse
don't see many suits and ties and Sunday-go-to-meetin' dresses at these
services. Folks wear cowboy garb, right
down to neckerchiefs and fancy belt buckles and spurs if they're riding.
to the Tribune, the service in Mount Vernon closed, not with a
traditional recessional hymn, but with a recording of the cowboy song made
famous by the late King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, and his singing wife, Dale
Evans: Happy Trails to You, Till We Meet Again.