By Mary O’KEEFE
There was a lot of dancing and a few “yee haws” thrown in for good measure when the Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta recently held the congregation’s traditional Cowboy Church.
This is the 11th year Rev. Beverly Craig has brought her brand of cowboy ministry to her congregation. Craig was born and raised in Nebraska and remembered being on the farm and feeling the freedom of riding in the open fields. She liked the ideal of what cowboys and the cowboy life represented – at least the Louis L’Amour version.
The service began with the Santa Clarita Valley Young Marines program presenting the colors and leading the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Master Sgt. Tim Stratton had a special surprise presentation for church member Don White.
“Hopefully all of you know Don was a staff sergeant in the [U.S.] Marines Corps. These are for Don,” Stratton said holding up a shadow box of medals. “Because most of your medals and awards were unfortunately lost many years ago, I would like to present to you from your wife [Laney] a shadow box containing new medals and awards.”
White was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 22 years and had accumulated many medals and honors for his service. Over the years, those medals were lost. His wife wanted to honor him by replacing them.
The shadow box of 11 medals and honors included his Southwest Asia Service Medal with one Bronze Star. For his part, White was very quiet and humble when he received his medals. He held them up for the congregation to see, they applauded, and he hugged his wife.
That quiet patriotism, along with guitars, cowboy hats and songs about horses, was woven in with readings from the Bible.
“Second Corinthians Chapter 8 Verse (21) … for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man,” read Sandra Shields, a member of the congregation. “Just like cowboys and cowgirls of the Old West, we do right, we are right and, when we are right, we are like Him.”
Karen Mitchell and the CC (Cowboy Church) Wranglers played songs from the Old West and favorites from “Orange Blossom Special” to “Nobody Kisses their Horse Anymore.”
Kids from the Prom Plus Club were on hand to help with the after-service Old West barbecue, but before that they did some dancing down the church aisle, though no one does a country-dance like Gary Bates, the newest practitioner of LCCRS. One wouldn’t call Bates’ form of dance a two-step, because there are a lot more steps to his choreography, but his style, which is all his own, is a contagious energy that gets everyone up and dancing.
The barbecue that followed included steak, beans and potato salad. Everyone sat at tables with red and white-checkered tablecloths and it seemed, at least for a while, the cowboy legends were alive and well.