By Stephanie Choate
Williston Federated Church’s new spiritual leader traded one traveling life for another.
After a career jetting around the globe in business consulting, Besta said he heeded his calling to join the church. He has spent the last 10 years traveling the United States and Canada as a transitional pastor, helping churches bridge the gap between long-term leaders.
“I go to churches for up to two years in the period of time between long-term ministers,” Besta said. “I help them say goodbye and deal with any challenges, tensions or issues. I help them figure out who they are and get ready for whoever is going to come next.”
Reverend Joan O’Gorman retired from her post in June, after nearly eight years with the church.
Besta began on Nov. 8, and will be with the church for 18 months to two years. He and his spouse, Jim Rombough—along with their dog, Barney, and cat, Tucker—have begun settling into Williston.
Besta said his role is to “help the church heal from Reverend Joan’s leaving, and help them prepare for a new minister, so when the new minister comes in, everything is perfectly smooth,” he said.
With the tight bond that frequently develops between minister and churchgoer, Besta said there are often parishioners who need soothing.
“Whenever a longer-term minister leaves the church, there are people who are grieving,” he said. “It’s part of my job to help them go through the healing process. It’s losing a friendship.”
Sally Stockwell Metro, church lay leader who helped with Besta’s selection, said the church was looking for an interim pastor to help members prepare to seek a new long-term pastor, and Besta has helped numerous churches grow and define their missions.
“He is a humorous man who delivers sermons that speak to us about living as active Christians in today’s stressful world,” she wrote in an email to the Observer. “We look forward to working with him to determine our goals in the future and to be current and meaningful to people looking for their spiritual home.”
Besta, who is Canadian, has always had a strong faith. He was an alter boy in the Roman Catholic church as a child, then, like many people, took time away from the church in his teens and 20s.
Later in life, he joined his current denomination. Williston Federated Church is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church denominations.
“It’s who I am theologically,” he said. “Their beliefs match my beliefs.”
His faith led him to leave his consulting career.
“It was a call, a sense that I needed to do it,” he said. “The longer I was in consulting, the more I grew to detest it.”
Besta’s religious philosophy focuses on the needs of others.
“We are the hands and feet and heart of Christ in our world, let’s go out and make a difference,” he said.
Besta invited all residents to come by the church for Sunday services.
“The United Church has a slogan, ‘No matter who you are and where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here,’” he said. “That’s one of the principles I try to live by and see that our church does as well.”
And, if anyone happens to be selling a motorcycle, he’s in the market.