Community welcomes new pastor


A new resident to Colusa County has been filling the position of pastor for those who attend the Methodist churches in Williams and Arbuckle. 

Pastor Tom Cota has assumed the duty of pastor, and his wife, Evelyn now serves as the church’s secretary.

The couple are living in the pastorium in Arbuckle, preaching at 9 AM and then in Williams at 11 AM on Sundays. 

“Both congregations are very loving, very supportive, and we are just thrilled to have the opportunity to serve here. It’s like coming home,” Pastor Cota said.

After preaching for many years on a dude ranch in Santa Barbara, the husband and wife team decided to relocate. Cota originally hails from Williams and it was family that brought him back. 

“My aunt became ill, Dolores Emerick. She’d been involved in the United Methodist Church since 1957,” said Cota. 

Dolores Cota Emerick resided in Williams for 61 years and was a member of the Methodist Church in Williams when she died in the fall of 2018. “I was five years old when she started taking me to church with her, there in Williams.”

Cota offered to be a visiting pastor if Pete Shell, the pastor at Williams Methodist Church wanted someone to fill in. Through the Untied Methodist district, Cota was named the newest pastor to fill in for Shell who is ready to retire. 

“The district leader wrote me a beautiful letter saying that it was an answer to a prayer for us coming home and the way things have worked out,” he said. “We’ve just been so well received and we’re so excited about it.”

July 7 was Cota’s first time behind the pulpit in Colusa County, the first of what he expects will be many Sundays to come. Friends and family came to show their support and filled the church. A previous classmate Cota hadn’t seen in some time had attended and Cota said that he was very happy to hear that she and her husband intend to become regulars.

“Everything worked out well; we really feel welcome here,” he added. 

Cota said that he felt everything was falling into place to guide him and Evelyn here to Colusa County. 

“We were praying for an opportunity to serve in Paradise. But with my aunt passing away when she did, and the Paradise fire, those were tragedies,” explained the minister. “But the thing that came out of that was us winding up here. And so, ‘All things work together for good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose.’ That’s Romans 8:28.”

Cota says that the transition has been easy between himself and his predecessor. 

“It was a nice, smooth transition,” he said. “Pete and I got along wonderfully. He has done everything he can to help me get into a smooth start here.”

There will be a going away party for Shell at the church on Sunday, July 21, in Arbuckle, starting at 1 PM. Sandwiches will be served and a potluck of salad or side dishes.

Cota has no intention of shaking things up and introducing new changes, although his goal is to bring up attendance. 

From the pulpit, the minister explained to his congregation, “We are encouraging people to think positively about church growth.” 

Cota is looking to brush up on his Spanish and is considering offering bilingual services in the future, but said that language should not be a barrier, as the invitation to church is for everyone.  

The public is invited to the annual Ice Cream Social. The local favorite will be held on Sunday, August 11, at 6 PM, at the Arbuckle Methodist Church, 600 Pendleton St. They will be scooping up homemade ice cream, cookies, with entertainment for families and a raffle. 

“This county is just really full of good people,” said Cota. “It really is. Just salt of the earth people.” ■