Religion

Sandy Baptist Church in Myakka City celebrates "Cowboys for Jesus"

MYAKKA CITY -- Bobbie Sue Periwinkle meant to go to "The Lonely Ladies Saloon" on Sunday. Instead, she found herself sitting on the front pew of Sandy Baptist Church in Myakka City.

Bobbie Sue, in a black and hot-pink dress with a feather boa and black fishnets, was eventually rushed out of the church.

"The men then tried to buy the floozy," said Buffalo Chip. And then gunfire erupted.

Bobbie Sue was actually Sue Dannels, member of "The-Hole-in-the-Head Gang" -- a group performing for the dozens of parishioners celebrating the annual "Cowboys for Jesus" at Sandy Baptist Church.

The gang improvised a gunfight outside the church when Bobbie Sue was willing to go home with the man who offered her the most money.

"I got to run away with the floozy," laughed "Buffalo Chip," aka Edwin Miller.

"She needed to be prayed for," said Jane Langford, the much more conservatively dressed performer who escorted Bobbie Sue out of the church.

Langford, also a Sandy Baptist Church parishioner, said Cowboys for Jesus is a family event where people worship, share meals, and just enjoy each other's company. Roasted hogs, fish and swamp cabbage awaited the parishioners.

"It's from 10 a.m.," Langford said, pausing, "'til' everyone decides to go home."

Cowboys for Jesus draws people from Sarasota,Arcadia, Bradenton andother areas nearby, saidPastor Larry Albritton,69.

"It brings people together ... it's special for cowboys, old-timers and young ones," Albritton said. "This combines it all."

Before The-Hole-in-the-Head Gang's show, a band played worship music inside the church, motivating attendees to stand up and raise their hands in the air.

"While I was praying, somebody touched me, must have been the hand of the Lord," they sang repeatedly.

Everyone rose to their feet as soon as the band began playing and singing Amazing Grace, the music carrying quite a distance outside the church.

In between the singing, performances and cook-out, "I tell stories about God's creations," Albrittonsaid. "God has created us,and we do have a master, and that master is Jesus Christ."

Groups of people walked around the church's fields Sunday, others rode horses. Some sat on benches chatting with friends.

About 150 people attended the eighth Cowboys for Jesus celebration Sunday, Albritton estimated.

"We have a lot of fun," said Dannels.

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde.

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