Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Cowboy Church

I've just returned from a few days in northern Georgia. While driving down the highway in Hiawassee (mostly mini-malls and gas stations), I saw a sign that said "Cowboy Church" and wondered what that was. So I stopped to find out.

Fronting the highway are a pawn shop and music store run by Pete and Dorothy Underwood in what used to be their Gulf filling station. A few steps lead to what used to be the garage — now the home of the Cowboy Church. At one end is a stage with the side of a log house on the back wall and a porch. Parked next to the stage is a black 1949 Ford. ("Pete took the motor out three or four years ago and has been working on it," Dorothy commented.)

Another of Pete's projects — a buggy — is in the back of the room, which is furnished with a motley collection of chairs, an upright piano, some rug remnants and an interesting assortment of objects (crosses, cowboy boots, a washtub fashioned into a bass, rifles, guitars, gas lanterns, stuffed birds and more). Two prints of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper are hanging on the wall along with a poster listing the Ten Commandments, several pictures of Jesus and a rendering of Lower Manhattan (where I happen to live), with the Twin Towers still in place and the words "United We Stand."

Dorothy told me there would be gospel singing at the church that night and invited me to return. I did. It was great. MC'd by Bro. Alan Flowers who preaches at the church on Sundays, I heard some fine singing, particularly from an 11-year-old girl named Emily Carey. Remember that name. I think you'll be hearing more about her in coming years.

If I lived closer to the Cowboy Church, I'd go there often. And should you be passing through Hiawassee, Georgia, on a Saturday night (or on the first two Friday nights in the month) when they're singing and playing gospel and bluegrass, I recommend that you check it out.