In the 1920’s the word “cowboy” was actually used as an adjective for “reckless.” That is the stigma these guys sometimes get in today’s society, being reckless, someone who ignores potential risks, and who is irresponsible and heedlessly handles sensitive task.
Some cowboys were labeled this way because of the boomtowns on Kansas where a large number of cowboys developed a reputation for violence and wild behavior and would get drunk and gamble and cause all kinds of trouble. However, not all cowboys should be labeled -- or grouped this way -- and any reasonable person shouldn't judge a person because they wear a cowboy hat and cowboy boots.
One group, in particular, who defies the stereotype of a traditional cowboy is The American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches (AFCC). This non-profit Christian organization is made up of cowboys who attend cowboy churches whose leaders and congregations believe they should represent the Bible to the fullest extent. The AFCC believes the Bible is the true, complete and failing Word of God and Brother V.L. Gilbert would like to promote this message and organization to the Crossroads area cowboy community.
“It is really an important part of what the cowboy churches are all about,” Gilbert said. “Our churches started in Texas back in 2000 in Ellis County, and it is one of the largest of them all. The Bible is for everybody and with the cowboy churches it is just another vessel that God is using to promote his word.”
The primary goal of the AFCC is to help affiliate churches reach people for Jesus Christ. This organization was formed to help resource affiliate cowboy churches through communication, training, mentoring and sponsorship, to hopefully enable them to start even more cowboy churches. By doing this, they hope to spread God's Word from one side of the nation to the other as Christian cowboys, he said.
“Our goal is to just reach people for God and by having these cowboy churches all over the states, we can affiliate more people who are interested in church who are 'Christian cowboys',” added Gilbert.” “Cowboy churches in Texas and the ones in Mississippi are going to look different because . . . you have a whole different type of people. However, they all still have the same love for agricultural things and that western appeal and culture, so I feel like it will work well in North Mississippi.”
These cowboy churches are filled with people from all backgrounds, income levels and interests. AFCC cowboy churches strive to remove as many barriers as possible that might be found in the more traditional church settings and offer a more relaxed, “come as you are”, atmosphere where everyone is welcome, he said.
“It is exactly what it is when we say 'come as you are' because you hear people say that all of time and really don’t mean it, but, we really mean to just show up like you are and let’s have church,” Gilbert explained.
"Last Sunday, I preached a message at a certain church affiliate and I had some of my folks who didn’t want to go because these church folks had suit and ties on and I told them it doesn’t matter. If you were out in the field working and scooping manure or whatever . . . that is just part of it. Just come on in and have church anyway,” said Gilbert.
A meeting will be held for all those who are interested in learning more about how to become affiliated with this organization on Monday, September 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Crossroads Regional Park at the large pavilion.
(More information can be found about the AFCC cowboy churches or how to start your own cowboy church by calling 1-888-611-2651 and/or by checking out their website at http://www.americanfcc.org/ for more information.)