United Methodist Church welcomes new pastor

Published 9:06 am Friday, June 25, 2010

The Rev. Tom Biatek admits he likes starting in new places.

As the new pastor at Albert Lea United Methodist Church, Biatek will preach for the first time there at the 9 a.m. service on Sunday. A breakfast will follow.

He replaces the Rev. John Bromeland, who retired earlier this month.

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Pastors in the Methodist Church are assigned to their points of ministry. “I wasn’t looking for a move,” Biatek explained. “It was a bit of a surprise. But I do enjoy starting in new places.”

Most recently, the pastor comes to Albert Lea from Discovery United Methodist Church in Chanhassen. Before that, he was at Excelsior United Methodist Church on Lake Minnetonka and before that, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Minneapolis. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in ministry in Iowa.

Biatek was born in Washington, D.C. and lived there until he was 8. At that time, his father, who worked for the federal government, was transferred to San Francisco.

Biatek attended the University of California, Davis, and it was there that he had a dream about going into the ministry. He earned his master’s degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Drew University six years ago.

He and his wife, Jill, have two grown children. Son Jason, 22, graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris, and will be starting graduate school at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus this fall. Daughter Kristen, 20, recently graduated from cosmetology school.

The pastor enjoys travel, backpacking (especially the Lake Superior hiking trail as well as in Scotland) and has biked across Minnesota three times as part of an effort to raise money for a homeless shelter.

Biatek said his goals as pastor are to help the church to grow and find its voice in ministry. “I hope we can do some good in the town,” he said.

Christian education is also a passion for him, and he hopes to have it become an emphasis in the church. “I like to teach, so I hope we’ll be doing a lot of Bible studies,” he said.

A mission trip and getting the annual rock’n’roll worship service started again may also be part of the church’s future, he said.