HJ/EDMarch 6, 2006

New pastor serves Albion church with focus

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

The new pastor at Albion Evangelical Free Church in rural Cokato, has three passions, all of which will be the focus of his new ministry.

“This position gives me the opportunity to do the three things I love: teach, preach, and do mission work,” Pastor Philip Geoffrion said.

Geoffrion is replacing Pastor Daniel Runke, who is now serving a church in Duluth.

Having started his ministry more than three decades ago, Geoffrion has served congregations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota, before starting as the pastor at Albion Evangelical Free Church Feb. 1.

The congregation in Albion is small, about 100 members per Sunday, just like the first church Geoffrion’s served.

But it’s the friendly people and intimate atmosphere that Geoffrion especially likes, along with the opportunity to do what he does best.

“I felt it would be a good move for me, my gifts seemed to match the needs of the church,” Geoffrion said.

Geoffrion and his wife, Norma, are making the move to Cokato from Buffalo.

“My wife is very supportive and active in the church,” Geoffrion said.

Norma is currently the teaching director for Community Bible Study, which meets in Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, and is part of the national Community Bible Study organization. Norma also teaches piano lessons from their home.

The couple also has two grown children, Jason, who lives in Colorado, and Julie Green, who lives in Cottage Grove.

When the Geoffrions decided that it was time for a change, Albion seemed like a good fit.

Geoffrion already is working on his first goal as the new pastor.

“I’m just getting to know the people, and seeing what we can do to grow spiritually. I want to show people how to live it out,” Geoffrion said.

Geoffrion is certainly an example of this, as he works in several different capacities to spread the gospel.

He is teaching ethics and comparative religion classes at North Hennepin Community College, and taught classes at Crown College in St. Bonifacius last year.

Members who are planning to come to church and find Geoffrion in the next month might be out of luck.

Geoffrion is just about to leave on a three-week mission trip to Belarus, where he will teach classes to pastors and lay leaders.

“It’s like my second home over there,” he said.

Geoffrion has gone on 10 mission trips to Belarus since 1996.

But the teaching and mission trips were all part of the deal when Geoffrion agreed to come to Albion.

“The people are receptive and eager to grow spiritually, and they are fine with the teaching and the mission trips,” he said.

Geoffrion is also excited for a change in pace.

“I could focus better on the ministry by coming here. . . I was trading in three part-time jobs for a full-time job,” Geoffrion said.

Geoffrion had been working as nursing home chaplain for two and one-half years for Lake Ridge Care Center and Park View Care Center in Buffalo, and conducted church services for Faith Community Church, which met in the basement of Lake Ridge Care Center.

Prior to that, he was an associate pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Buffalo for more than eight years.

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