Cowboy Church works to rebuild troubled lives

Out of tragedy, Linda Tarter is sharing words of hope.

After her son, who had battled mental illness, committed suicide in 2009, the Black Diamond resident turned her attention to others.

"I wanted to make some good come out of somoething that was so hard," she said.

The result was Boundaries, a class that meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Thursday at the Black Diamond Community Center.

"It's a life skills class...a foundational building block," she said. There are many people wandering around who lack the decision-making skills to function successfully in society, she explained, adding that many come from dysfunctional families where lessons were not handed down.

The goal of Boundaries, Tarter said, is to teach people when to say yes, when to say no and how to take control of their lives.

Tarter's efforts came under the umbrella of Out of the Ashes Ministries, an organization she founded that has secured full nonprofit status with the government. Now, she and others have launched Cowboy Church, a once-a-week gathering of people attempting to resurrect troubled lives.

"It's a new outreach for us," Tarter said, noting that Cowboy Church is aimed at the same demographic group as Boundaries.

"It's for people who have had extreme difficulties in their lives," she said. "That's the group we're trying to help."

It's a segment of the population that often distrusts conventional churches or has had a failed relationship with an established congregation, she added.

Cowboy Church is largely driven by those in attendance, as there is no pastor to lead the small flock.

"It's more interactive," Tarter said, noting that she attempts to line up a guest speaker each week. Often, a topic will be presented and the service consists of a group discussion.

Cowboy Church gathers at 7 p.m. every Wednesday at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion, 22712 S.E. 436th St. in Enumclaw, where owner Ron Mariotti has donated meeting space.

For more information about Out of the Ashes Ministries or Cowboy Church, phone 360-886-1627, e-mail or visit

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