Cowboy Church

Ed Thompson

Published on 08/08/11

© Ed Thompson

Texas is peppered with small churches; their gaudy neon crosses cre­ate rhythmic breaks in the steady ebb and flow of advert­ising bill­boards that dom­in­ate the views from their vast inter­states. Most evan­gel­ical churches are easy to spot, giant effi­gies of Christ coupled with com­mand­ingly bold mod­ern archi­tec­ture; Amer­ica, the birth­place of mod­ern con­sumer­ism and celebrity cer­tainly knows how to mar­ket one of earth’s old­est icons.

In con­trast there are sur­pris­ingly few signs to take you to the 1,000 Hills Cow­boy Church. Loc­ated in the remote Texas Hill Coun­try, the entrance, an ornate tra­di­tional Texan metal sign, frames a dirt road that leads you past a single wooden cross to a large steel barn. The park­ing lot slowly fills with pick– up trucks, whilst young cow­boy kids prac­tice rop­ing on metal bulls; a band can be heard play­ing coun­try & west­ern bal­lads that echo around the barn and out across over the horses that are roam­ing around the pas­tures adja­cent.  The band greets the crowd with cover songs of Johnny Cash and other clas­sics with altern­at­ive Chris­tian friendly lyrics.

© Ed Thompson

The inside of the build­ing looks more like a rodeo arena than a church, with a chuck wagon, pad­dock, com­ment­ator box and bull rid­ing chutes. In the centre there is a large wooden stage. A dis­tinct­ive altar-piece, a Texan pas­tiche of both an altar and a musician’s stage, dec­or­ated with hay, saddles stools and skulls.



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