December 01, 2011
Spurs and Sermons
Beta Upsilon Chi
Have you ever gone down a gravel road to get to church? Have you ever mentioned the word “ranchers” in a prayer (after removing your cowboy hat, of course)? Have you ever witnessed a baptism in a feeding trough? If you answered no to any or all of these, you’ve probably grown up going to a city-slickin’ Yankee church. Don’t be ashamed, I spent a good deal of my life in a traditional Methodist church before ever hearing about or visiting Cowboy Church. It brings a different and wholesome atmosphere full of friendly people and plenty of stories for people like you. So pull your hat down tight, dust off your boots, and hear about the eternal trail ride to heaven.
The first cowboy church I ever went to was last summer in Plano, TX. Right off the bat, I was slack-jawed at the fact that it was held in a honkytonk. One of the greeters told me, “We got a hundred beer signs and one cross, but you only need one cross.” Truer words were never spoken by a man in a Texas flag shirt serving me a plate of biscuits and gravy. Talk about hospitality; they had dough-boxers slinging out fixings for the rest of the congregation. And if you’re looking to build up your vocabulary, those are the kinds of words and phrases that will be picked up in cowboy church.
Here in Austin, I go to the Cowboy Church of the Hill Country, about 20 minutes as the crow flies away from campus. This is really a sight to see, and I encourage you all to stop by at least one Sunday. If you are having trouble finding it, it is the sanctubarntuary next to the dirt pasture on the side of the highway. Yes, that’s right I said sanctubarntuary. Do you think they would have it at some glamorous architectural gem? No, this place is as ragged as some of the church-goers beards, with twice the personality.
I think I was greeted by the entire congregation, which was about 25 people. You would have thought we had come in with the Ten Commandments with the amount of attention we were getting. Of course, not to be confused with the Cowboy Commandments, which should be observed by all cowpunchers in the west:
1. Just One God
2. Put nothin’ before God
3. Watch yer mouth
4. Get yourself to Sunday meeting
5. Honor yer ma and pa
6. No killin’
No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal
8. Don’t take what ain’t yers
9. No telling tales or gossipin’
10. Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff
If you like the word of God abbreviated, this is the place for you.
If I were to tell you anything to persuade you to go to cowboy church, it would be this: how many times have you ever sat in a rocking chair at church? Of course, being the true southerner I am, I let the old ladies have them while I sat in the plastic chairs used in lieu of pews. Of course the use of chairs provided a perfect obstacle course for the dogs to weave in and out of. I probably counted four or five dogs running around during the service, without having any idea of where they came from. But one thing is for sure, these cowboys sure love their four-legged friends. Beverly, an elderly woman claims she sets her pup in an HEB bag and ties it on her saddle when she goes riding. Now that would be an interesting game of fetch.
The best thing about the experience would have to be the music. They had a country gospel band that was like an ordained Willie Nelson. They weren’t exactly on key, in time, or “good” per say, but they had no trouble giving each other pointers or criticism mid-song. We all know church can get earlier and earlier on Sunday mornings. Fortunately at cowboy church, you don’t have to stand up through the songs. You can be as lazy as you want, and no one would bat an eye. This was ideal after the full plate of donuts we were given after walking in.
If you are looking for work, cowboy church is the place for you. At the end of one service, there was an all congregation vote to ordain one of their members. If it is really that easy to be a minister, then that completely explains Rev Run. One of my friends that came with me was offered the job of church secretary solely because of his good handwriting on his visitor’s form. This place does wonders for the unemployment rate; I’d like to see Obama beat that.
From the handshakes at the beginning to the singing of “Happy Trails” at the end, cowboy church is a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time for the whole family! I plan on taking the old dusty trail back there a time or two this year, and I’d love to see you around. I swear by my tan wranglers that every bit of this story is true. Don’t believe me? Come on by, I’ll save you the good rocking chair.
Carson is a sophomore studying education. You may contact him at email@example.com..