PENDLETON
Cowboy church rounds up talented youth pastor

Photo contributed by Jordan Kaufman Chris Kaufman, a multi-instrumentalist and youth pastor at the Pendleton Free Methodist Church, is featured during the cowboy church service Tuesday in the south grandstands at the Round-Up Grounds.

Coming from living and working in and around suburban Detroit, Chris Kaufman might seem like an odd choice to head up the annual cowboy church service during Pendleton Round-Up.

However, despite the fact the Free Methodist Church youth pastor doesn’t own a pair of cowboy boots, he has an overwhelming love for God and is excited for the opportunity.

The Pendleton transplant — Kaufman and his wife, Jordan, moved to town in February — has already been wrangled into the cowboy culture. In June, he rounded up a group of youths from his church and headed up worship music for the Buckaroo Rodeo Bible Camp, held in the Happy Canyon Arena.

“It’s been an interesting culture shift for us,” Kaufman said. “Most of our work has been in the inner city.”

Kaufman, a multi-instrumentalist, will perform and share during the service, which is Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. in the South Grandstands at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds, 1205 S.W. Court Ave. While there is no admission charge, a freewill offering will be taken.

The son of a youth paster, Kaufman didn’t initially plan to follow in his father’s footsteps. During most of his youth, Kaufman didn’t care for church — particularly the hypocrisy of some people, who lashed out at those in church leadership positions.

“I had never wanted to be in the ministry,” he said. “There was a time I didn’t believe in God and I even hated God.”

It was at a conference, Kaufman said, where his heart was softened. The speaker talked about how American churches are flawed. However, instead of being angry and bitter, people were urged to respond with love.

Initially getting his start on drums, Kaufman said he’s proficient in playing 12 instruments, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, saxophone, trumpet and piano. In addition, he plays across a variety of genres. While these days his focus is with worship music, he has performed everything from rock and country to folk and jazz. For seven years he provided the backbeat, playing drums with We Are Wormwood, a Christian heavy metal band.

“I just love music,” he said. “When I get the chance to play anything, I jump right on it.”

The cowboy church service is a ministry of the Blue Mountain Christian Cowboys. Gloria Rodriguez said the group was formed in the mid-1990s by a handful of area families that rodeoed together. Their desire was to have church services available for their kids while they were participating in rodeo events.

Although the kids have all grown up, the Blue Mountain Christian Cowboys decided to continue coordinating several activities a year, which also includes an Easter sunrise service in Meacham and a Christmas party.

For more information, call Rodriguez at 541-449-3280 or Patti Clark at 541-276-8540.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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