He relates how God communicated with him that retirement was not to be in the landscape. Alice was in Ruidoso on spring break with some of their children and Charles was at home in Texas. Through a series of events, Clary knew God asked him to start a “Cowboy Church.” Not a cowboy himself, Clary took some time to wrestle with God, asking Him for distinct confirmation, imploring family members to pray for direction. God communicated clearly with him in several ways and when a fellow pastor made an unsolicited financial contribution for Clary to start a church in Ruidoso, he knew he was headed in the right direction.
Pastor Clary remembers the pathway he’s taken to arrive at the ministry of J Bar J Church. He’s been instrumental in mentoring hundreds of new ministers. “Seminaries are academic and do a wonderful job, but they’re not practical,” says Clary, who made it a point to have young ministers serve alongside him. He’s served as a Trustee on the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and his Arlington, Texas church birthed 10 new churches between 1981 and 1998.
Clary recalls one of those new churches focused on ministering to the needs of ex-cons and their family members. Church met on Monday evenings where leaders shared a meal and offered classes in rubber-meets-the-road areas like employment coaching. They worshiped together and leaders finished Monday evenings by distributing groceries to ex-con family members. Clary says, “If we don’t love people, they won’t come to believe.”
J Bar J Church began meeting April 2, 2002 in a building on Rio Street. After a short time the congregation realized permanent space was needed. Clary says he negotiated with the owner of their current property on Highway 70 and purchased the acreage with “very little money in the bank.” The congregation was faithful to pay the debt in two years.
Due to growth with attendance swelling in the summer, plans were made to build a larger sanctuary in keeping with the existing building’s barn-like, cowboy architecture. Clary says attendance can double from May through September, and at least two services each Sunday were needed in the smaller structure to accommodate the growth. Debt-free construction began in 2010, and local artisans contributed to the interior furnishings and artwork. The new sanctuary was dedicated Palm Sunday, 2009.
April 2 J Bar J will commemorate its 10th anniversary with special events during the morning service. To give summer members opportunity to participate, another extended celebration will occur the week of July 1-8. Clary lists banquets, music, covered dish dinners and fellowship in the mix. Plans are still in the making but concerts by Belinda Gayle and Jack and Deb Stone are included the festivities schedule.
Presently, J Bar J Church ministers through “old country gospel music and friendliness of the people.” Clary is quick to give God credit, “God has truly blessed us beyond what anyone could ever imagine.” Small groups add a personal touch, along with a youth program and children’s ministries. To contact J Bar J Church, phone 575-257-6899 or email: email@example.com.