DEXTER (BNM) - Thirty-five people attended One Tree Cowboy Church’s second annual campout June 14-16, which included a camp-style worship service, testimonies, and more.
Reed Wheeler, who pastors the Dexter church, told the Baptist New Mexican that this year’s campout drew in 35 people, up from nine people at the previous year’s event. Wheeler said the purpose of the campout is to “get into nature” and worship God.
Church members and guests arrived at Baca Campground, east of Capitan, in Lincoln National Forest throughout the day on Friday, June 14, and most stayed through Sunday afternoon. The church held its weekly worship service at the campground on June 16.
In addition to the Sunday service, campers participated in hikes, games of horseshoes, singing around the campfire and sharing testimonies. According to Wheeler, one woman - a friend of a church member - shared about her recent mission trip to South America.
During the campout, Wheeler said several people rededicated their lives to Christ, something that also occurred during the 2018 campout.
Wheeler told BNM that One Tree is “all about giving people Jesus and using the western heritage culture to do that. We're a very laid back church. You get Jesus every time you walk [through] the doors or anytime you're around the people of the cowboy church, and we do it in a very laid back way."
Wheeler added that it is not unusual to see men in ball caps or cowboy hats at church activities, or to hear the worship band playing distinctly western Christian songs. He said the church plays Christian music that sounds similar to what people may hear at a bar or dance, in an attempt to help break down barriers between the church and the western community beyond it.
The campout was intended, in part, as a way to get members of the cowboy community to interact with members of the church without coming to church. "We had a young man who would not come to church, and he came up there with his grandparents. Now, he's coming to youth and getting involved with the youth group. It's great to see that happen,” Wheeler recalled.
According to Wheeler, One Tree is "a laid back, pressure-free zone to hear the Word of God.” He hopes to continue hosting campouts in the years to come.