|Itís the Pitts
By Lee Pitts
Due to a surge in religion and a lack of church facilities in this country there is a growing trend of using auction markets for Sunday services. Hey, if they can hold church in the middle of a roping arena and in a Southern California drive-in theater why not a sales yard congregation? It seems quite natural as there are probably more prayers said per capita in auction barns by consignors than anywhere else on earth.
This progressive idea should appeal to all denominations. Because no commercial cattle auctions are held on Sundays, the facility is always available and there is plenty of parking. There is already a P.A. system, the auction block is perfect for a pulpit and the seats are more comfy than pews. The scripture readings and hymnal pages could be put up on the board where the price per pound and head count usually appear and baptisms could be performed in one of many water troughs. And what kid wouldnít want to attend Sunday school with the prospect of cracking whips and riding calves?
When you think about it churches and auctions have many similarities: there is a lot of preaching that goes on and asking for money.
By holding church services at auction yards the preacher, pastor or priest would not be preaching to the choir but to a whole new crowd. Many people who are not real churchy, like cow buyers and auctioneers, would feel far more comfortable in an auction market setting than a tabernacle or a temple. And who needs a good dose of religion more than a packer buyer?
An auction market certainly is a target rich environment for souls that need to be saved. I mean these are people used to counting their blessings on a calculator. I guarantee one thing, give me a long-winded pastor preaching to a bunch of cattle buyers and there would be a real ďawakeningĒ when the sermon was over.
This is not to suggest that some things donít need to be changed when you hold church services at an auction barn. The traditional hymns should be updated to Bringing In The Sheep and Shall We Gather At the Sales Yard. More wine will probably be needed for communion and the preacher might want to add a brief market report after the scripture reading to keep everyoneís interest.
Flowers probably arenít a great idea either, after all, we are talking about a place where animals graze. And auction owners should resist the urge to hold a spontaneous Sunday trader cow sale just because a large crowd has gathered. Itís probably not a good idea to have an ordained auctioneer preach on Sunday and sell on Monday either. You should welcome all denominations (fives, tens, and twenties) but if itís a down cattle market be prepared for parishioners to make change out of the offering plate. Itís also probably NOT a good idea for any of the sales staff to sit in on any confessions.
Come to think of it, why should auction markets be limited only to regular church services? Other functions of the church could be performed there as well, such as weddings and funerals. What bride doesnít dream of a sale barn wedding? You may think Iím devout of my mind but itís a natural. A load of potential grooms could enter through the Ďiní gate and the bride could then pick her choice and reject the cutbacks. The reception could be held in the auction market cafe and the auction owner would only charge a small commission for use of the facilities. That way if the wedding doesnít work out a lot of money wasnít wasted on a big wedding. Truck drivers in attendance might even throw in a back-haul to Greeley as a honeymoon trip.
As for the dearly departed they would exit the Ďoutí gate and then be penned in the proper pen by the yard-back crew depending on their final destination.
Who knows, if this auction/church idea catches on sale barns might even start hosting other ecclesiastical activities... like bingo.
This farm news was published in the March 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.