Three wooden crosses standing inside a gate and cacti sporting yellow blooms herald the entrance to the 3C Cowboy Church in Salado, where Robert Whitefield has been pastor for almost eight months.
Ranches sit around the church property, and working cowboys and families attend the casual western-themed services.
“There is no pressure to dress up for service and people can come the way they are for worship,” Whitefield said, noting that the church’s mission is to reach the lost and show them the way to Christ
Whitefield was born in Brady and grew up in Iredell, where he graduated high school in 1967. He served four years in the U.S. Marines, where he was a member of the Marine Corps rodeo team. While on leave, he met his wife Sharon, who was attending Tarleton State College. They married in 1991 and have three children.
Saved at Tolar Baptist Church, Whitefield accepted the call to ministry six months later. He began by working with children. He was licensed through the church and later ordained at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Valley View.
Whitefield studied at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, earning a diploma in theology and master’s in missiology. He and his wife served a year as church planters in Uganda, among the Baganda tribe, Uganda’s oldest ethnic group.
Some of Whitefield’s toughest pastoral assignments were small, unharmonious churches.
“I have to remind myself that God is in control and his word doesn’t return void, but will accomplish its purpose,” he said.
3C has youth services on Wednesday nights and services for kids on Sunday mornings.
The church has a full arena in back, which hosts team roping, ranch rodeos and bull riding. Whitefield preached from horseback Easter Sunday to 400 people.
Secretary Sue Flynn has worked at the church two years.
“Pastor Robert is a good pastor, down to earth, and a people person,” she said. “He preaches the word.”
Lee Crook, an office staff member new to the church, said she appreciates Whitefield’s forward thinking and leadership skills, which have brought people into the church.
3C Cowboy church is in Salado. Call (254) 947-7211 for more information.
Herald/Sandra Duffy Oliver