By Mary O’KEEFE
“All things change but Truth, and that Truth alone lives on forever…In my Creator, my country and my fellow man.” –The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.
The Cowboy Code from Gene Autry, according to cowboyway.com, “He must never go back on his word, or trust confided in him. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. He must help people in distress. The Cowboy is a patriot.”
The idea of a cowboy riding off into the sunset or working the open range is at the basis of American life. Although it is linked to Superman, the saying “Truth, Justice and the American Way” could easily be attributed to the ideal of the cowboy. It is that ideal that is being honored and celebrated at Center for Spiritual Living on Sunday.
“This is the seventh year of Cowboy Church,” Rev. Beverly Craig at Center for Spiritual Living.
Rev. Bev, as she is known throughout the community, said the Sunday service of Cowboy Church in centered in the music but will be sprinkled with readings from scripture. Some of the readings included will be from Psalms, Chapter 100 and Corinthians, Chapter three, verse 17: “Now the Lord is that very Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” This highlights appreciating freedom.
Cowboy Church honors those now serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The former pastor at the Center Rev. Eldon Harris was a member of the Flying Tigers, an American Volunteer group of pilots that flew for China against the Japanese in 1942. In addition to Harris the church has a strong connection with the military with a member of the church, Mario Angel Dominguez, who now serves in the United States Navy and was stationed in Bahrain.
“Cowboys represent that freedom and so it is [natural] that we honor those serving [in the military,” she said.
Rev. Bev was born and raised on a ranch in central Nebraska. She remembers being on the farm, learning to ride and enjoy the freedom of open land. She has found a fellow mid-westerner and musician Skeeter Mann.
Skeeter Mann and The Lost Canyon Rangers will be performing at the Cowboy Church.
“We perform Western music, not country,” he said.
He explained the difference between Country and Western music. “Western they sing about kissing their horse, Country they sing about kissing someone else’s wife.”
Mann has been a musician all his life but recently left his real job in construction to pursue his dream.
“We have been doing pretty well,” he said.
Mann is from a small town in Illinois and grew up around farming, ranching and horses. After he left the farm he worked as a wrangler and broke horses for many years. Mann said he liked doing these types of services because he feels there is closeness between the music and God.
“I love the honesty of the music,” he said.
The regular Cowboy band was not available for Cowboy Church. Rev. Bev said a member of the church had mentioned Mann who was playing at the (Gene) Autry Museum of Western Heritage. She went listened and knew his band would be the right fit.
Of course you can’t have a Cowboy Church without a barbeque. After service the church’s courtyard transforms into a Western cookout picnic grounds.
“Everyone is invited to the service. It is really a lot of fun,” Rev. Bev added.
Service begins at 10 a.m. Tickets for the concert, service and barbeque is $20 for adults, $12.50 for cowboys and cowgirls six to 12-years-old and for those cowpokes under five, $7. It is advised to RSVP so an accurate account of meals can be prepared. Contact the church at (818) 249-1045. The church is located at 4845 Dunsmore Ave.