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Entertainment => Music => Topic started by: Soldier4Christ on August 02, 2007, 10:33:26 AM

Title: Cowboy band turns to preaching Gospel
Post by: Soldier4Christ on August 02, 2007, 10:33:26 AM
Cowboy band turns to preaching Gospel 
Told to back off praying 'in Jesus name,' members create ministry of song, stories

Three members of the famed "Flying W Wranglers" cowboy band, told that they should back off praying "in Jesus' name" during their concerts, turned themselves into preachers and now have set up their own ministry of songs and stories.

They've appeared in Ecuador, at a Christian music event at the El Paso County fair, in Cheyenne's Frontier Days, with the Navigators in the nearby foothills of Colorado's Rocky Mountains and have on the schedule yet this week an appearance on WMBI at Chicago's Moody Bible Institute.

They are going, as cowboys say, great guns.

But it didn't start that way. Scotty Vaugh, who along with Vern Thomson and Joe Stephenson created the new Colorado Wranglers/Cowboys for Jesus ministry, say they departed the "Flying W Ranch" and its famed "Wranglers" band after being told not to be so Christian during their performances at the chuckwagon dinner and concert events.

Thompson said he and the other band members had been incorporating a prayer – "in Jesus' name" – as part of the show to ask a blessing on the food served during the western-style dinners. He and the others also had been incorporating Gospel songs, and stories about their own Christian experiences into the programming over the 30 years they'd been at the ranch.

"I've been a believer since I was very young. I believe the Lord sent me to the Flying W Ranch. I considered it a ministry," he told WND.

Others didn't.

"Our boss, he told us you can't be saying 'in Jesus' name' in front of everybody, say it only in front of Christians," Thompson said. "We were pushing the envelope. We thought we were supposed to. We certainly didn't think it was hurting business."

But the disagreement grew, and one of the Flying W Ranch ownership group, "came to me and said, 'There are too many stories about church and all this stuff. That's almost embarrassing,'" Thompson said.

Another ownership group member said, "I don't know how we turned from a family business into a family ministry," Thompson said.

Thompson initially agreed with the group about backing off, but Vaughn, who does the western story features such as the "Pea Little Thrigs" and "Rindercella" for the band, said he couldn't back off.

"I had really pushed the envelope praying in Jesus name all the time. They had let that go for quite awhile. [But] they'd apparently gotten a few letters, and then sent Vern to tell me I'd better cut it out. They never said we couldn't pray, but they said do it quickly and move on," he said. "They wanted it backed way off."

"That was not what God had called us to do," Vaughn told WND. "We felt we needed to leave. Actually Vern was kind of on their side to start, so I said I need to leave."

But Thompson, after praying over the issue, came back and told Vaughn he was right, and the two, joined by Stephenson, didn't renew their contracts. One member, Ronnie Cook, remained, and assembled another band for the ranch, which retained the "Flying W Wranglers" name.

"They're doing good," Jay Chladek, general manager for the ranch, told WND.

Chladek said the cowboy singers left, "because they wanted to have their own ministry."

He said the team members were allowed to talk about God on the ranch, "but they couldn’t minister like ministers singing in churches. It was all on their own choice."

Asked whether there were limits imposed on their prayers, he said, "That's not true. We still pray and we still have Gospel songs."

In fact, the ranch has in its mission statement that the experience "be a blessing as we endeavor to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and in deed to those who come."

However, Chladek said that had been adopted only recently, and the former band members told WND the ranch got a negative reaction from the issue in the Colorado Springs community, known as the home to dozens of Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family, and immediately moved back towards a more Gospel oriented presentation.

"It's really turned out to be a win-win for God," said Thompson.

Van Sims, the manager for the new organization, a registered 501(c)3 ministry, said the group recently returned from a trip to Ecuador, played an event at the Cheyenne Frontier Days western celebration, did a couple of shows at their new home base near Colorado Springs, performed in Estes Park, Colo., for a Compassion International event, then appeared at a picnic for the Navigators nearly Colorado Springs. Still on the agenda for the week was a free park concert sponsored by several churches and a trip to Chicago for the WMBI appearance.

"They have been busy," he said. "These guys were ordained as ministers in February. This ministry thing, that is what we are. We minister through our music."

The Flying W Ranch was launched in the 1940s with Don Wilson bought the Douglass Homestead, which had been founded in 1867. The ranch would rent out horses for people to ride, and some evenings, a group would share a "potluck."

Then came plans for a scenic horseback ride followed by a homecooked meal under the stars around an open campfire. In 1953, 11 guests paid $3 each to begin the program. The ranch had fed 1,650 people by the end of the summer, and by 10 years later, the attendance was 125,000.

Later came a reproduction of an Old West town and the western stage show, which originally included appearances by the Sons of the Pioneers.

"We're still those crazy cowboys, who make fun of each other, laugh, have a good time, quote Scripture," Thompson said. "But before they're out of there they've heard the full message of Jesus Christ."