Cowboy Church Celebrates One Year

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's Cowboy Church celebrated its one-year anniversary Monday night. Known as the Gateway to the High Country, church members enjoyed hours of potluck food, prayer and horseback riding in the indoor horse arena at the Boone County Fairgrounds.  

A scent of horse lingers in the air around the makeshift metal stand that acts as pews for the prayer service. Nearby, four long tables are filled with a variety of home-cooked meals. It;s far from what some might call a traditional church.

Preacher Dale Larison calls himself the cowboy preacher. He started the church as a way to spread the gospel in a slightly less formal manner than traditional church. He says the major difference between his church and norm is the horse track backdrop for his sermon. He says he likes the fact that his church attracts Christians of all backgrounds.

"We get a lot of people coming in that probably wouldn't be attending church otherwisem" he said.

But connecting God and cowboys isn't a new phenomenon. In fact, Larison got the idea from a cowboy church in Bend, Oregon when he lived there as a Southern Baptist preacher. Since that time, he says it's been a long-time dream.

"I've wanted to do this for a long time now. I was told by a lot of people, including fellow preachers it wasn't a good idea and I shouldn't do it," he said.

In response to those who would tell him it wasn't worth his time to start a cowboy church, Larison merely replies, "At the end of the day, it comes down to one thing.  Am I going to listen to my fellows, or am I going to listen to God in my heart." 

Last Monday was the one-year anniversary of the Gateway to the High Country Church. Members enjoyed a potluck dinner followed by a horse show before Preacher Larison stepped up to an altar decorated with a real set of bull horns.

You can join cowby church on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:00 P.M.

(Photo courtesy: Gateway to the High Country Church)