By Jennifer Von Ohlen
COKATO, MN After serving Cokato’s Albion Evangelical Free Church for more than 11 years, Pastor Philip Geoffrion has announced his retirement, effective Tuesday, Aug. 1.
A retirement open house celebration will take place Saturday, July 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the church, located at 11480 5th St NW, Cokato.
Geoffrion graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1972, and chose to pursue his Master of Divinity degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts with the hope of eventually teaching theology.
“I just felt a call from God that I should be a teacher,” said Geoffrion.
While he originally thought that meant he would spend most of his time at the front of the classroom, his seminary years led him to a life at the front of the church as he realized he had a heart for shepherding people.
“My motivation is II Timothy 2:2,” Geoffrion stated, which reads, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
“I’m sharing what I know with others, who will, in turn, teach others,” said Geoffrion, explaining that an individuals’ vocation can always provide an opportunity to pass on knowledge.
One of Geoffrion’s favorite experiences in ministry has been “seeing people’s lives and attitudes change to become more like Christ.”
My goal,” he added, “is to get people to think, and to not only learn a new knowledge, but to internalize it and put it into practice. So, I’m hoping that people will not only learn something they have never learned before, but that it will impact their thoughts, attitudes, actions, and reactions.”
Geoffrion served his first congregation in River Vale, NJ, while he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, in 1978.
Throughout his years of active ministry, Geoffrion has served a total of seven churches in five states: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
In addition to pastoring churches, Geoffrion was also able to teach at a Bible college and seminary in Minsk, Belarus; instruct ethics and religion courses at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park; and teach Bible and theology at Crown College in Saint Bonifacius.
Within the local community, Geoffrion dedicated his time to being president of the Buffalo and Cokato-Dassel Rotary clubs, singing second tenor with the Litchfield Men’s Chorus for a season, and serving as chaplain at the Lake Ridge and Park View Care Centers in Buffalo (2004-2006). He was also the lead pastor of Buffalo Evangelical Free Church from 1994-2003, and has been actively involved in leading a community Bible study in Buffalo with his wife, Norma.
The Geoffrions recently celebrated their 45th wedding and ministry anniversary, and plan to move into their newly built home in Berthoud, CO, to be near their son Jason and his wife, and other relatives.
“I’m looking forward to a more relaxed pace of living, enjoying the mountains, and [experiencing] what God might have next for us,” he stated.