Cowboy church kicks up its heels on the Western Slope
Grand Junction, Colo.
It seems only fitting that because Jesus was born in a manger, church ought to be held in a barn.
That’s one opinion of a group of people launching the first cowboy church in Mesa County.
“We are a regular church,” said Roslyn Walter, whose husband, Colton, preaches when he’s not training horses in Mesa. “We believe in the Bible and we seek the Bible as our direction for truth.”
It’s similar to a regular service in that the congregation sings songs and a minister preaches.
“The worship service is not that hugely different,” Walter said. “We just want to make sure people don’t have to put on their Sunday best.”
The group breaks from tradition in how they dress for church (they can wear soiled jeans, a work shirt and boots), where they worship (any barn or pickup tailgate will do) and which horses or greased pigs they’ll bring to the service.
The church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention “because it gives us a group of people who also believe the Bible as sole authority,” Walter said. “And because they believe the local church is run by local individuals.
“In the cowboy church we want people to learn for themselves from the Bible, not another person,” Walter said.
Eventually, the Walters would like to launch cowboy churches elsewhere, with the impetus from local residents.
“Our goal is to get people growing with the Lord and then they take over the church,” Walter said. “If there’s one in Delta, Colton will help get it started.”
Walter described the cowboy church as a place “full of dirt, horses and sometimes sweat and blood, where cowboys and cowgirls get together to jointly worship God together. The goal is to seek truth as it is written in the Bible. They seek the Bible’s authority rather than the words of men.
“They study the Bible around a campfire or maybe the back of a pickup truck or in the dirt after being piled by someone else’s favorite little pony. The desire is that cowboys and cowgirls come to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior, grow in Christ from being banded together with Him, that their lives will reflect Christ and that they would gather lost souls while seeking to serve Him. They do fun stuff like dressing goats or racing horses or catching greasy pigs, but they do it for a higher purpose of glorifying God.”
Round Pen Cowboy Church meets for the first time Sunday in Ron and Mary Groves’ indoor riding arena at K & 20 roads near Fruita.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.