Church makes 'country folks' feel right at home

BENTON, Kan. - A life-size cardboard cutout of a smiling Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger stands in the background of the stage. The curtains are made of red handkerchiefs hung over horseshoe-shaped fixtures.

It's not a normal setting for a worship service, but the Cowboy Church in a theater room on the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper rounds in Benton drew 27 people last Sunday. It's part of a growing trend to cater to "country folk" who might not be comfortable with the trappings of organized religion.

"We don't need all the 'thees' and 'thous,' " said church founder Dan Boyd, whose white beard and suspenders have some confusing him with country singer Charlie Daniels. "People don't say those King James prayers when they're hurtin'."

The nondenominational church is similar to hundreds popping up nationwide that create a setting for worship that reflects a cowboy way of life.

Boyd says his church stresses a nonjudgmental, come-as-you-are approach. The setting itself makes people feel comfortable, he said.

"Teach us to unload our burdens on you like we do a wagon," prayed Charles Fische, a Wichita pastor helping with the new congregation.

The sermon last Sunday was short and centered on "good, country values." Latecomers removed their hats before finding a chair, though some kept them on throughout the 40-minute service.

They came in wearing Western shirts, cowboy boots and shiny belt buckles, and felt right at home, immersed in the smell of raw wood and leather chaps and saddles all around.

This Week's Circulars