Black Hills Cowboy Church breaks ground
September 26, 2019
Just off the interstate near Beulah, a parcel of land began a transformation at the weekend from old arena to new place of worship. Pastor Tom Karp hopes that Black Hills Cowboy Church will be open for business by the end of year, combining church services with roping, barrel racing and skeet shooting.
“All of our ministries are either arena based – team roping, barrel racing, horse training, all of those kinds of things – or outdoor ministries, so skeet shooting, archery, trail rides,” Karp says.
“We don’t do any traditional kids’ ministries on Sunday morning or Wednesdays, it’s all arena based or outdoor based.”
Services at cowboy church will be a little different to a traditional Sunday gathering, he says.
“Our service is going to incorporate everything from contemporary to hymns to even western songs, as there’s a lot of country and western out there that’s very family and church friendly,” he says.
“You’re going to have to like the western mentality, whether you’re a rancher, farmer, cowboy or somebody who grew up with or likes that kind of feel.”
The idea for a cowboy church in this area came about last January, says Karp, and the church closed on the property in July.
“We were trying to decide as far as where at exactly and then we found the property at exit 199,” he says.
“We’re doing a bunch of work right now, trying to get things ready. We’re going to be meeting in the indoor arena this winter, making do with that, and then we’re going to build another pole barn in the spring that will actually be our main meeting space.”
The church will be its own entity, Karp explains, but is associated with other familiar regional names.
“Fountain Springs Church in Rapid City and Countryside Church in Spearfish are the two churches that are helping us get going. The Countryside Church is going to be the one that’s more influential in helping us, there are already a number of people from that church and it is a larger church,” he says.
“The Northwest District of the Wesleyan Church is our main supporter, the denomination itself.”
Work has just begun, but is set to progress swiftly.
“Last Saturday, a group from Countryside called Frontline Men came over and did a bunch of work – dirt work especially,” he says.
“There was a huge amount of dirt. One of the guys, Scott Anderson, works for the Komatsu dealership in Gillette and talked to his vice president about the possibility of donating for us to use for free either a dozer or blade. This last week they had one available and it’s amazing what that dozer can do. Scott also had his back hoe and front end loader out there.”
Karp says there are two more big steps before the property becomes usable.
“The indoor arena, we need to level it out and we’re going to put plywood down for right now and kind of curtain off part of it so that if we still want to do stuff on the other end, we can, but that dust isn’t going to come over and interfere with sound equipment and people’s breathing,” he says.
“That’s the next step, and graveling all the dirt work we just did.”
If all goes well, the cowboy church will be welcoming its congregation in time for the holidays.
“We’re hoping to get started the second weekend in December. If we can’t get everything in place by that point, we for sure want to have Christmas Eve service there,” Karp says.
“We probably won’t get into archery and skeet shooting at this point this year. We still hope to at least do some basic horsemanship in the other part of the arena this winter.”
The aim, says Karp, is to continue development so that the church’s full list of activities can be offered by next summer. The church is currently fundraising to construct a pole barn, while the existing outdoor arena needs a few improvements, he says.
“Next year when it warms up, there’s a lady who is part of the church who used to [a professional barrel racer] and she wants to train some girls. One of the guys that comes to the church was a team roping champion down in Cheyenne Frontier Days a number of years ago,” he says.
“We’re hoping to cater not only to those who enjoy it right now, but especially to cater to the younger generation.”
If you are experienced in rodeo, the church is looking for additional mentors. Contact Karp at 605-222-3960 to find out more; meanwhile, search “Black Hills Cowboy Church” on Facebook to keep up with construction and find out when services will begin.