Reverend Lester Huesby’s business card has the phrase “Open Hearts-Open Minds-Open Doors.” He has spent the last seven years as the guiding force of the Methodist Church trying to do just that. Reverend Les seeks to keep the focus of church founder John Wesley in the hearts of the congregation.
Wesley, his brother Charles and other students formed a group devoted to study, prayer and helping the underprivileged while studying at Oxford. Reverend Les’ mission in Price has been to strengthen what the church is doing to follow that tenet.
Thirteen years ago, on the brink of suicide, Reverend Les was taken by the feeling he had a higher power, a mission to do something better. Once through recovery he could have done anything with his life, but he chose to be a reverend with the Methodist Church and make a difference.
Reverend Les came to Price and took over the helm when Reverend Nancy Boswell left the area. He took on the task of rejuvenating the interior of the church. His congregation has worked with him and spent many hours of time, labor and money to bring the inside back to the former glory it once had. Many years ago, a beautiful stained glass window had been paneled over because it faced the morning sun. A member of the congregation had an eye condition that made it painful to sit in the pews.
To open the wall back up and re-expose the windows, a plexi-glass sheet was installed on the outside of the window to diffuse the glare. Woodwork and doors have been sanded and stained. Members also have painted two large murals in the gym to hide some paneling. But it is a never-ending task. Reverend Les has found an unlikely partnership to help continue the work. He has opened the doors of the church to drug court participants. This partnership started three-and-a-half years ago when someone asked if they could hold NA (narcotics anonymous) meetings in the basement.
It seemed like a great fit. The location is centered downtown so individuals can walk to meetings if needed. Reverend Les, a recovering addict, sat in on meetings to remind himself of how much damage he caused when he had been using.
After a short time, one of the participants asked if there was anything they could do around the church to work off community service hours. He started a couple of them off with cleaning around the church. Then as a few others looked for help, Reverend Les gave them more substantial projects such as sanding the banisters in the stairwells and fixing windows. Pride in workmanship and what they have accomplished has been a win-win for both the church and participants.
There is no pressure or expectation to join the church to take part in working on projects or coming to NA meetings. How much or how little help each volunteer gives is in their own hands. Reverend Les said that they have never had any incidents or theft associated with the group. They have had two participants choose to join the church and one will have her child baptized this spring.
Drug court also requires each person do a project while completing their journey. One of the participants decided to organize a panel discussion of drug court participants and invited key members of the community to come and ask questions. It was a success. Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo, workforce services, Wally Hendricks, Four Corners Mental Health, Dr. Williams and many others took part. They decided to make this an ongoing community forum to work on ways to improve the success of those working through the process of recovery and to lessen drug problems within the community.
The next meeting will be April 22 at 6 p.m. at the Methodist Church. The focus will be on finding a way to establish a sober house and arranging funds to help those in drug court pay for fees and costs to stay sober.
While opening up the church to help combat the social issues plaguing the area has not been easy for some in the congregation, Reverend Les continues to reach out, bringing all factions together on a common goal. Many of his congregation do look at what he is doing as a positive impact on the church and community.
The church houses a non-denominational boy scout troop as well. The group puts on lenten lunches every spring and gives the proceeds to charity. There are other fundraising activities that happen throughout the year that benefit the area as well. Recently, Reverend Les was the grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Price.
“Dare to take a chance and reach out of your comfort zone and go out to get to know someone who is different than you,” Reverend Les said. “We need to drop the barriers of them and us. Whether it is drug court participants, gays, other religions or any other difference, we need get to know one another and give each other a chance and hope.”