Sad­dle up for church

Con­gre­ga­tion caters to the cow­boy crowd

The Covington News - - RELIGION - By Tyler Smith

Driv­ing a pickup truck and wear­ing a black Stet­son hat, cow­boy boots and blue jeans adorned with a large belt buckle, Jim Part­low looks the part of mod­ern day cow­boy, and he is a mod­ern day cow­boy.

So it should come as no sur­prise that when Part­low de­cided to spread the word of God, he would start the Trails for Christ Cow­boy Church.

Though there are many dif­fer­ences be­tween a cow­boy church and a reg­u­lar, main-stream church, one re­ally stands out in Part­low’s mind.

“The main dif­fer­ence is the at­mos­phere here is more re­laxed,” Part­low said. “You can come as you are. With some churches you have to wear a suit and tie and all that stuff. A lot of folks don’t feel com­fort­able in the larger churches and the type of at­mos­phere there. But a lot of folks still love the Lord with all their heart, and they want a place of wor­ship. Some folks have been hurt in those types of churches, and they are look­ing for a place to come wor­ship and just find a church home, and we just want that to be here at the cow­boy church.”

The idea of a cow­boy church in New­ton County first oc­curred to Part­low af­ter he be­gan to lis­ten to the Nashville Cow­boy Church on the ra­dio.

“A friend of mine ac­tu­ally made the com­ment that what this area needed was a cow­boy church and the Lord had al­ready been deal­ing with me about it,” Part­low said. “I just passed it off as maybe just a whim and a fancy, but it just wouldn’t leave me alone. Day af­ter day that’s all I thought about.”

But when he had a chance to visit Dr. Harry Yates, the pas­tor of the Nash- ville Cow­boy Church, Part­low knew what he had to do.

“When I walked through the door there, it just kind of over­whelmed me and blew me away,” he said. “I knew then that that was what I was sup­posed to be do­ing.”

So for the past four months, Part­low and few faith­ful fol­low­ers have been hold­ing ser­vices at the Pony Ex­press Horse Auc­tion Barn.

Ev­ery Sun­day at 3 p.m., a con­gre­ga­tion of be­tween 15 and 30 mem­bers settle in for an hour of good old-fash­ioned cow­boy wor­ship.

“The gen­eral mes­sage is that God loves you no mat­ter where you come from and that we all have to be saved,” Part­low said. “It’s a mes­sage of sal­va­tion. We just want peo­ple to know that God loves them no mat­ter what and that no mat­ter what walk of life they come from. If there is no one else in this world that cares about them, God cares about them.”

Part­low hopes the cow­boy church can be a place for peo­ple who feel left out of so­ci­ety and need a place to show their de­vo­tion to God.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who have found them­selves on the scrapheap of hu­man­ity with seem­ingly no hope and not a friend in the world, but we want peo­ple to know there is a God who loves them and they can find him in here,” Part­low said. “You don’t have to be a cow­boy or a cow­girl to come here.”

The church is non­de­nom­i­na­tional, so peo­ple from all back­grounds are wel­come. Fans of coun­try gospel and old-fash­ioned gospel hymns should en­joy the band that plays at ev­ery ser­vice. Al­though the band has a few reg­u­lar mem­bers, any­one is wel­come to join in ei­ther as a player or as a singer.

“We have a good time,” Part­low said. “We have a hoe down in cow­boy talk. We come out here on Satur­day night and wit­ness to peo­ple when they have a sale out here.”

At the next sale night, Part­low and a few other mem­bers are go­ing to set up a band and play for the cus­tomers be­fore the sale gets started.

Ser­vices are held at 3 p.m. so parish­ioners can still main­tain a home church if they so choose. But Part­low hopes the good old fash­ion coun­try at­mos­phere of the cow­boy church will com­pare fa­vor­ably with what he calls doc­tor’s of­fice gos­sip.

“I know I seem laid back, but when I get to preach­ing, I’m like an an­i­mal,” he said. “I’m se­ri­ous about what I do. I’ve been in church for 25 years, and God has done so much for me. I lived for the devil un­til I was 23, and I can’t af­ford to give God any less than what I do.”

For most of his young life, Part­low was a trou­ble maker. He drank, smoked mar­i­juana and raised Cain. But when he was 23-years-old, an un­em­ployed Part­low be­came very ill. Doc­tors could not ex­plain his dizzy spells or his in­abil­ity to eat or sleep. So he turned to his aunt, who Part­low calls his spir­i­tual leader.

“I called her on a Sun­day morn­ing and told her I was

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Spread­ing the word: Trails for Christ Cow­boy Church Pas­tor Tim Part­low pauses at the en­trance to the church’s wor­ship space lo­cated in the Pony Ex­press Auc­tion Build­ing, lo­cated at the in­ter­sec­tion of Ge­or­gia High­way 142 and Ge­or­gia High­way 11.

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