Western flair: Cowboy Church gets new homestead thanks to volunteers

Saturday, January 10, 2009
Jim Matthews, pastor of the Cape County Cowboy Church, gives his sermon during the second service in the new building in Oak Ridge. The Cowboy Church began five years ago.

The Cape County Cowboy Church held its first service Jan. 4, 2004, at the Fruitland Auction Barn. The congregation held its first service in a new, 32,000-square-foot building Jan. 4, 2009.

Pastor Jim Matthews said nearly 1,200 people attended the first service at the church's new home at the Oak Ridge exit on Interstate 55. Matthews said between 600 and 700 normally attend the services.

The church started as a mission of Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau and Fruitland Community Church. They are affiliated with Southern Baptist mission efforts.

"Our congregation is made up of a mixture of different people," Matthews said. He said they are more in the non-denominational category.

"Christians all preach the same gospel and love the same Jesus," he said. "We have grown like wildfire."

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Lane Seabaugh, 2, of Delta, checks out the view of the new Cowboy Church from a fake horse during a service Thursday night.

The services have a certain Western flair. The congregation sings cowboy gospel songs and uses western instruments such as guitars.

"Our worship attracted people who longed for the cowboy way of life ... simpler and more straightforward," Matthews said. "I preach in a cowboy hat, jeans and cowboy boots. People can come as they are to the services. If they have mud on their shoes, or haven't had time to change clothes, people can come as they are."

The new facility has concrete floors. Mud and manure will wash right off.

"God doesn't care as much about the exterior as he does the interior," Matthews said.

The times of services have been geared to those who normally cannot attend church at the usual times. When the Cowboy Church first began at the auction barn, worship was held Thursday evenings rather than Sundays.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Robert Loos of Fruitland brought his dog, Rudy, to the service at the Cape County Cowboy Church.

The Cowboy Church style of worship is not typically churchlike.

"It's a lot about Jesus and not much about church" said Matthews. People can even bring their pets to the services if they choose.

Matthews gives credit for the new facility to the congregation. Volunteers did most of the work on the new church.

With the new building, they added a 9:30 a.m. Sunday service to the original 7 p.m. Thursday time.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Members of the Cape County Cowboy Church listen to the western band Thursday night in Oak Ridge at the second service in the new building.
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Alan Estes of Fruitland takes his hat off to pray in a service at the Cape County Cowboy Church Thursday night in Oak Ridge at the second service in the new building.
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Allie Moll of Perryville waves to a friend at the beginning of the service at the Cape County Cowboy Church Thursday night in Oak Ridge at the second service in the new building.
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