Jamestown's Tree of Life Lutheran Community will soon welcome its new minister, the Rev. Robert J. Kasting. "Pastor Bob" will officially begin as the parish's pastor as he presides over worship this Sunday at the Tree of Life's two branches, Immanuel Lutheran Church and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Kasting is relocating from South Carolina for his new call, but the move will mark a return to his roots. He was born in Buffalo in 1962, and calls himself a "huge Bills and Sabres fan."
"I am very excited about coming to Western New York ... it is still my hometown," Kasting said. "I am excited about the vast outdoors and adventures that lay ahead of me."
John Taylor, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church council president, is pictured with Pastor Bob Kasting, new pastor of Jamestown Tree of Life Lutheran Community.
As a child, Kasting moved around the Northeast with his family prior to settling in Long Island in 1976. His father was in the funeral service business. In 1984 the family moved to Waxhaw, N.C., about 30 miles south of Charlotte. Kasting has lived in the South ever since.
Kasting hasn't always been a minister (he is a former chef and restaurant co-owner), but the idea occurred to him earlier on in life.
"I remember in or around 1980 feeling the call to be a pastor, but I never acted on it. I was young and working in restaurants and was able to play golf and sleep in, why give up a good thing?" he laughed. "It wasn't until about 1994 that the call became stronger. I finally listened to God and went on to get my bachelor's in business administration and then onto LTSS (the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C.), where I graduated in May of 2001."
Kasting greatly enjoys leading worship.
"Worship is getting refueled with God's love for us and going out," Kasting said. "It is time to be joyous and excited about His work."
Spreading the message outside of the church's four walls is also very important, Kasting said. "As a pastor I am a friend and a brother in Christ. Ministry happens when we all go out and share God's love with our neighbor. When we form relationships with our neighbors, and everyone is our neighbor, we show God's love."
He demonstrated this at his last church, Faith Lutheran Chapel in Pickens, S.C., by participating in numerous community events. He and members of his congregation distributed free water and snow cones during events such as cruise-ins and the annual Pickens Azalea Festival. A "hands-on" participant, he once accepted a challenge to a race against the mayor of Pickens on motorized toilets.
Pastor Bob looks forward to becoming involved in the Jamestown community, as well. He said, "As a church we need to form and have relationships in the community, letting our neighbors know that we are there for them."
Kasting is the father of three children: Andrew, 20; Joshua, 11; and Rebekah, 8.
The Tree of Life Lutheran Community was formed in December 2011, and Kasting is the first pastor the parish has called. From January through August 2012, the Rev. Alison L. Leitzel served as interim pastor. Since her departure, ministers from other local churches have been covering worship services and other pastoral duties for both Immanuel and Holy Trinity.
Immanuel Lutheran Church is located at 556 E. Second St., and has Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. each week, followed by worship at 10:45. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is located at 825 Forest Ave.
Its Sunday worship services take place at 9:30 a.m., with Sunday School following at 10:45. Both congregations welcome visitors and anyone searching for a church home.