Marty Brown and Bill Ward felt that the southeast Iowa church, Moravia Church of the Nazarene, could serve a unique niche in its ministries — cowboys.
Plans were made, work began and in June of 2012 a new horse-riding arena was finished on the church property on the southwest side of town.
“Each month we host our Broken C Cowboy Ministry at the arena,” says Patty Brown, wife of Marty and secretary at the church. “We had our first one in July or August, and we now have 75 to 100 people show up from as far away as Newton and Unionville, Mo.”
The outdoor service begins with singing and worship, often led by guest preachers, while sitting on horses, benches or chairs around a campfire. After worship, lunch is served in the church, and then the fun really kicks off.
“We have a fun horseback riding show with games for all ages,” said Brown. “We run barrels, run the poles, trot with an egg on a spoon and a cowboy rescue. Just all kinds of fun horseback games.
“We give ribbons each month for all the events and all the age groups,” continues Brown. “And at the end of the year, we awarded belt buckles for our season winners.”
The arena is a unique feature for a church but has allowed this small-town community to minister to some who might not otherwise be comfortable at a church service.
“This is a great way to invite families that ride horses or who are involved in 4-H to enjoy church in a different way,” says Pastor Terry Chapman.
The arena is set up for barrel and pole riding on the second and fourth Thursday nights of each month and is free and open for the community to use. In addition, the arena is open all the time for riding, and no fee is charged.
“We have some plans for roping events and some other rodeo-type events next year, but we’re just in the planning stages,” says Brown. “The Broken C Cowboy Ministry has been such a success, we’re just beginning to come up with ideas for events to have here. We are thinking of hosting a Cowboy Christmas, we’ll just have to see what we can come up with.”
For more information and a calendar of events, click on www.moravianazarene.com or call the church office at 641-724-3649.