Wearing a Ten-Gallon Hat to Pray: Cowboy Church at RodeoHouston
You’ve oohed and awed at adorable newborn Agventure farm animals, clutched your lap bar while riding the Ferris wheel, cheered on tiny tots clinging to bouncing mutton fur and covered your black shirt with bright white powdered sugar from funnel cakes. But have you ever sung along to a guitar strumming Amazing Grace with a room full of cowboys?
Even the most seasoned Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo veteran, volunteer, vendor or visitor may not know about the special rodeo tradition of Cowboy Church on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on the second floor of NRG Center during rodeo season.
Decades ago, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo started offering Cowboy Church services so rodeo contestants away from their home churches could still worship on Sunday mornings. Over the years others in the rodeo community, like volunteers and guests who were also missing church, began attending. There is always room for anyone.
Bob Devine, HLSR Lifetime Vice President and Chairman of the Board for Fellowship of Christian Cowboys (FCC) has been attending Cowboy Church at the rodeo for nearly 40 years. He remembers the first time he visited Cowboy Church at the rodeo back in the ’70s. “I was curious to see what it was all about. We were sitting on ice chests and a few folding chairs in a small room on the bottom floor of the Astrodome. It was special to worship together but it was definitely not fancy. We’ve come a long way now that we have comfortable chairs in a nice location.”
Bob feels people of any faith will enjoy Cowboy Church because it’s relaxed with a good message and enjoyable music.
Bob added, “It’s an entirely different environment than a structured church service. All ages are welcome. We love kids. We love everybody!”
Bunky Caldwell normally attends West University Methodist on Sundays but during rodeo season you’ll find him at Cowboy Church. The past 34 years, Bunky has been volunteering at the rodeo, in the skybox at the Astrodome and now in Stadium East. “I love hearing the testimonies of the young cowboys or bull riders and especially enjoy the music.” Bunky also finds the simplicity of the service very meaningful.
So if you feel like trying a unique church experience, why not mosey on over to Kirby Drive and 610 during the first three Sundays in March? Park in the Yellow Lot and walk through the glass doors on the west end of NRG Center. Then, like ascending up to heaven, ride the escalators to the second floor and follow the cowboy hats and guitar music. You don’t even have to wear boots to enjoy Cowboy Church. It’s likely to be the most religious experience you’ve ever had at the rodeo…maybe even more than the first time you tried a fried Twinkie or the time George Strait winked directly at you from the stage! Amen.
Cowboy Church is free and open to the public. No need to RSVP, but you’ll need grounds admissions. NRG Center Ticket Boxes and Gates open at 8 a.m. You can pre-buy tickets to avoid the line. Tickets are $15 Adult (13 & over), $5 Children (3-12). Ronnie Moyer, FCC National Chaplain, will lead the services on March 3 and 10; Danny Biddy, FCC Chaplain, will lead the services on March 17.
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