Fauquier Cowboy Church
Friday, November 24, 2017
THE BRUSH ARBOR CHURCH
 
"...Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20
 
   My Great Grandfather was a renown Baptist preacher down in the state of Georgia and northwestern South Carolina. I have copies of a good many of his sermons and activities surrounding his goings and comings as a Pastor. He was instrumental in starting several churches in that area that still stand and prosper to this day.
   He wrote about the brush arbor churches of that day, what they were, how they came about, and for what reason. 
   My Grandfather had a love for souls, to see souls saved, meaning, for one to come to Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour. That was his business and that is every Christian's business. Standing high above all else, the buildings, the ornate stained glass, the robed choirs, the nice furnishings, all heated and air-conditioned just right, and all that, should be the supreme business of evangelizing the lost. God help any church who's most important business is something else.
   You may have heard of BRUSH ARBOR churches and BRUSH ARBOR meetings. Down south, some of the camp meetings are still called brush arbor meetings, but in name only, no where near measuring up to what brush arbor meetings really were.
   Grand Daddy writes about one particular church and its beginnings when Georgia was not so populated. "Local folks wanted a worship place in their area. There were few automobiles, as most folks only had horses, mules, or walked. The folks were not rich as the world measures riches, but they wanted to gather together, which is only natural for God's children, and have services to worship God Almighty according to the Bible."
   They scouted out the area and often, as in this case, a  land owner would donate acreage along the road to get things started. The men of the community organized and with equipment, axes, saws (not chain saws), cleared the land of trees and brush. They fixed it so that the brush was piled orderly overhead to keep the sun off, mainly for the ladies. Thus, the term BRUSH ARBOR. The right sized trees were sawed into thick slabs and placed sort of like pews for the folks to sit on. The pulpit was a stump left high enough to work for the preaching. Boards were sawed up to make the outhouses. Imagine all that? The regulators and officials in this day and time at zoning offices would go crazy writing citations over such violations!  Nevertheless, that's the way it was done. Rough? It sure was compared to churches today. Can you imagine the complaints that this generation of pampered men and women would make?
   But, this BRUSH ARBOR church was precious in the eyes of those in that neighborhood. They didn't mind the splinters on the rough pews. They didn't mind the hot, or the cold, the wind, or the rain. They even brought the babies! We may judge it as crude, but, THEY HAD A CHURCH, MEANING,  A PEOPLE, A  PLACE, AND A MISSION TO FULFILL.  
"WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME, THERE AM I IN THE MIDST OF THEM"
 
   This reminds me of a certain cowboy church down near Charlotte, N.C.. A bunch of us met together one Saturday in a barn. At least the meeting place had a roof. You could see daylight through the cracks in the planking. But, it was warm enough. Heat was provided by a huge wood stove. Not many amenities but God was certainly there. Preachers from all around, wives, children, were there. The Word of God was preached... it was one of the best meetings I'd ever been to... period, bar-none, because God was in the midst! It mattered not that the floor was asphalt or that the meeting was in a barn, it did not matter to the good number of folks there! I can imagine some of the uppity pastors like some that I've been somewhat acquainted with over the years saying, "Why, Gawd ain't in it!!  Gawd ain't in any 'sich' thing as all that!!!..."   But, that is not what God said!  
   Back to the BRUSH ARBOR CHURCH, Grand Daddy tells of the people coming on the first meeting day. A good crowd! They came, some walking, some on horse back, some in buggies and wagons, they came from all around to be together, to worship God, to sing the old hymns, to hear the preaching of the Word of God. Out in the middle of nowhere, as primitive and rugged as it can get, they came and they loved it. Grand Daddy said, sometimes the dogs would follow along and get in a fight. There were other humorous moments as well. He tells of an old fellow who, when the invitation was given, held on to the edge of the plank (pew) till his knuckles turned white, but finally let go and came forward and received Christ as Saviour. (Thus the term "White knuckled convert"...) Baptisms were done at a local water powered mill out in the millpond. In the winter, the ice had to be broken first, but the business of baptism went forward. Many souls were saved over the years!
   As time went by, the people gave and a church building was built. Just a large box of a building generally, with a cross on top. Most of the furnishings were made by the people, the hand made pews, a pulpit, nothing fancy, but those artifacts would be priceless if you could find any for sale today.
   We are so spoiled today. It is a blessed thing to get back to the old ways to some degree. May we never let the property, the buildings, the furnishings become the things we worship instead of Almighty God. Remember the BRUSH ARBOR CHURCH.
   At Fauquier Cowboy Church we don't claim to be fancy but we have comfortable accomodations to be sure. You will hear the Word of God, you will meet people who love God, many who live out in the country and love the rural way of life.
   "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them"... Amen!