Cowboy Church congregation remembers late pastor as they search for a new leader

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST
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LIMESTONE Co., Ala. (WAFF) - One community is trying to move forward after the loss of a beloved leader.

Cowboy Church Pastor Steve Olney was killed in a hit-and-run accident nearly a month ago. He was riding his bike when he was killed by a driver on Oct. 18. His congregation is now hanging in the balance.

Congregant Jeffrey Hurt says it will be difficult to replace Pastor Olney.

“You’ve got someone that’s so close with you and friendship, spiritual the whole nine yards,” Hurt said. “It’s hard to just find someone else to immediately fill his place because it took years for him to earn the respect that he had with us and the love he had with us.”

Congregants say it’s essential for a new leader to have a few key qualities.

“Someone that has a strong bond in the community, someone that’s very accessible and someone that’s a leader,” Hurt said.

The No Fences Cowboy Church pastor out of Morgan county says every leader has to share a calling to serve.

“You don’t have a pool of just pastors like you would have in a traditional church,” Pastor Josh Sparkman explained. “It takes a special calling to be a pastor. Number one, it’s a calling from the Lord. I tell people all the time if it’s a calling you’ll get better, if you don’t you’ll quit.”

The Cowboy Church community is hoping to usher in a new leader while remembering Pastor Olney.

“I’ve said before, I don’t think anyone will fill Steve’s shoes but they can pick up by the trail that he’s already made and be able to move in a direction that is beneficial for the people God has put in that congregation,” Pastor Sparkman said.

Church members are taking a slow and steady pace to choose their new leader.

“It won’t be a quick transition,” Hurt said. “it will be a transition where a lot of prayer will be involved and a lot of time spent with the candidate and we’ll go from there.”

Congregants hope to have a new pastor within the next six months.

State investigators say they are still investigating Olney’s hit-and-run case. They have not reported any suspects or arrests.

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