A bearer at the 2006 funeral of rodeo legend Ken Lance said the Ada cowboy would probably try to start a rodeo “up yonder” in heaven.
Hearing these words, the Rev. Randall Christy smiled. At Lance’s funeral, with permission from his family, Christy announced plans to renovate the arena facilities to breathe new life and purpose into the popular rodeo arena Lance built in the 1960s.
On a hill up the road from Union Valley Baptist Church where Christy is pastor, the Ken Lance Sports Arena has now been resurrected for Rodeo Bible camps, Cowboy Church and Christian concerts.
The arena once hosted all manner of rodeo events, from trick roping and barrel racing to cowgirl rodeos and steer roping as a premier Oklahoma rodeo facility. Country and western entertainers such as Oklahoma’s Reba McEntire as well as Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson and George Jones sang to star-struck fans in an adjacent dance pavilion. The stage in the pavillion that accomodates 1,000 is where Reba McEntire got her start and her siblings Pake and Susie have performed there many times.
“We are so excited to present the first Annual Ken Lance Memorial PRCA Rodeo May 21-22 and so are many people in the area. The pro rodeo is coming back to Ada Oklahoma, and we feel priveleged to be a part of bring it back home,” Christy said.
The rodeo in May will be a fund-raiser for the Youth Rodeo Bible Camp which takes place the following week of May 24-29, where pro rodeo cowboys will work with the campers and share their faith in Christ.
Readers may learn more about the camp at www.3CrossesCamp.com. Christy said both young men and women of high school age are welcome to attend the camp. Cost is $150 dollars.
The arena’s rebirth is through Three Crosses Ministries, a nonprofit headed by Christy. The Southern Baptist pastor said Lance rededicated his life to the Lord at one of the Gospel Station Network’s cowboy round-up outreach events a few years before his death at age 78.
Christy and Lance’s former wife, Ruth Lance Wester, said the rodeo giant would be “thrilled” that his beloved arena once again bears his name and is being transformed into a place where youths can connect with the world of cowboys and the Gospel. One can learn more about her colorful life at www.RuthLanceWester.com
Now the three steel crosses that sit atop the arena’s entrance, so poig-nant at Easter time, serve as powerful symbols of the new purpose for the property.
“We want to recognize the decision that Ken made in his life to follow the Lord,” Christy said. “He believed in anything pointing people to the cross, the way of the cross.”