No Spurs Required at Cowboy Church

Karen Mitchell and the CC Wranglers will be performing on Sunday at Cowboy Church at the Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta.


The myth of the American Cowboy has inspired writers like Zane Grey and actors like John Wayne. These iconic artists have done more for the American cowboy than any social media platform could ever do. Grey wrote about the world where the cowboy lived, loved and rode his horse while Wayne gave us that image of the cowboy too tough to quit and who was patriotic – in their down home way. Cowboys have their own soundtrack, and it is not just country music but real Western music.

The Western band Riders of the Purple Sage embraced the mythical cowboy life inspired by Zane’s novel of the same name. Although there were a few bands that used that name it is the California ensemble, originally started by Foy Willing in the 1940s, that caught the attention of Rev. Beverly Craig from the Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta.

Several years ago, Craig and a friend from the church were at a small coffee shop in Altadena where the band was performing.

“It was our favorite band and we said we had to figure out a way to get them to the church,” she said. “We both looked at each other and at the same time said ‘Cowboy Church.’”

And so Cowboy Church was created. On Sunday, July 8, the Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta will welcome the band for its 15th year at the church.

There were some things to work through over the years as band members tackled their own issues. The original band began in the 1940s and members came and went. A few years ago, when it looked like the band was not going to be able to perform, Craig and other members of the church had an idea.

“We have a wonderful musical director, Karen Mitchell,” Craig said.

The thought was to ask her to bring Western music to the church like that of Riders of the Purple Sage and the band Karen Mitchell and the CC Wranglers was born.

Mitchell and Mike Ley joined forces and brought in more musicians and now they perform songs like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “No One Kisses their Horse Anymore” for Cowboy Church. There is, of course, dancing in the aisles and everyone is taken back to the days where people’s word was their bond, and being patriotic was not about politics … it was about honoring the country and those who served and protected their country.

Craig said Cowboy Church, at its core, is about honoring America and honoring veterans.

“We have the young Marine Corps [ROTC] from Santa Clarita as our color guard,” Craig added.

Craig is from Nebraska and was raised surrounded by open plains. Her dad served in World War II and his service changed him.

“When you take a farm boy off the farm and put him in the European arena, it’s different. [My dad] was with the [unit] that liberated prisoners from the death camps,” Craig said. “It made him a different person.”

That’s one of the reasons why the church focuses on veterans, to show them support because Craig remembers what it was like for her father when he came home.

It is also a time to just relax, listen to good music and eat good food. After the service there will be a barbecue catered by Stone Fire Grill.

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. The service is welcome to all and is free to attend. Tickets for the barbecue are $30. It is suggested to RSVP by calling the church at (818) 249-1045. The Center for Spiritual Living is located at 4845 Dunsmore Ave.