Clarence Meyers arrived astride a beautiful sorrel Quarter Horse named Bandit, while his wife, Sue, rode in on a glossy chestnut named Chester.
The Equinunk couple, owners of C&S Stables, were among eight mounted riders to brave Sunday’s chilly temperatures for Cowboy Church, joining another 30 or so people who had arrived by car.
Then there were the miniature horses stabled nearby. R. Wee Happy, a miniature Appaloosa stallion, brought in by Penny and Paul Reining, owners of R. Ranch in Lake Ariel, was a big hit with the kids. R. Wee Happy practically grinned, leaning in, as 11-year-old Jordan Peer of Galilee and three-year-old Katiana Eckert, rubbed his chest and neck.
This is the second year Pine Mill United Methodist Church has held Cowboy Church at the Pine Mill Grove Pavilion; it’s held once a month, generally the third Sunday, 1 p.m., throughout Spring and Summer.
Brothers Leon and Harry Eldred of Equinunk are the event organizers. Leon says the idea came from Clarence Meyers who had seen Cowboy Church on TV.
“I think it’s great, because you get people to go to church, and you get the riding in there as well. And the minister blessed the horses last year,” said Joan Gravina of New York.
In past, Leon says they’ve had as many as 85 people in attendance with close to 40 on horseback.
What does Pastor Alice Pedone think of combining a love of horses with the outdoors and with God? “It all fits,” she says with a laugh. “How can you not love God, and not love horses and the outdoors? They’re all God’s creatures. This is God’s creation. So, sure, of course it fits,” she said.
Pastor Pedone said, “I think it’s important because it’s a way of letting the community and the world know that Christians aren’t quite in the box that we look like we are; that we can think outside the box. We are invitational. We want people to come and worship with us and get to know the Lord and have the same kind of peace and happiness we have.”
God meets people where they are, she said. “God is omnipresent; He’s everywhere. He’s right here in the picnic grove, He’s right there in the community hall and He’s there in that church.”
Gwen Kisker and her husband, independent producers for the United Methodist Television Service, were up from Pittsburgh to film Sunday’s event. Kisker says it’s all a part of the United Methodist Church’s Rethink Church Campaign.
“The Rethink Church Campaign is the United Methodist Church trying to reach out to people who wouldn’t feel comfortable in a traditional church setting. So, whether it’s a coffee shop in a city or whether it’s a cowboy church like this ...it’s just really trying to make church less ‘churchy.’ And meeting people where they are,” Kisker said.
Page 2 of 2 - Sue Meyer said, “My time with God is when I’m on a horse, because that’s the only time in my whole life when I’m completely at peace.”
Arlene Ericson of Waymart said, “There’s nothing like going to church on a horse; it kind of brings you back to the olden days.”
To view the footage of Sunday’s event, go to UMTV.org.