Posted Online: June 14, 2013, 2:20 am

New associate pastor royally welcomed to Faith Lutheran

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
The Rev. Tim Balfanz recently became the new associate pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Moline. Senior pastor the Rev. Dr. Mark E. Gehrke called him an exciting, energetic new pastor and a great listener. Rev. Balfanz started his new post on June 1. The church will host an installation service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 16, followed by an 11:30 a.m. potluck for him and his wife, Grace Balfanz.
MOLINE -- A "Donald Duck: The Original Angry Bird" T-shirt worn by his wife gave Faith Lutheran Church's new associate pastor an idea for his first sermon about testy tempers.

The Rev. Tim Balfanz and his wife, Grace Balfanz, though, have been treated more like Disney royalty since arriving to the church on June 1.

"The friends we have made already are absolutely amazing," Rev. Balfanz said.

"That's amazing, in all caps, with exclamation points and exclamation points, and triple-underlines," Mrs. Balfanz quickly added.

Rev. Balfanz will be installed as the church's new associate pastor of youth and family ministry during a 10:30 a.m. worship service Sunday at Faith Lutheran, 1611 41st St. Services will be followed at 11:30 a.m. by a potluck in the Balfanz's honor.

"We've been here for about two weeks, and we absolutely love the church," he said.

The Balfanz's originally are from St. Paul, Minn., and got used to living in an area of 4 million or so people. He interned at a church in the small city of Hazen, N.D., with a population of about 2,400 people so they were thrilled to be back in a larger metropolitan area.

"Faith has presented me this wonderful opportunity to work exclusively with youth and family," Rev. Balfanz said.

"It's not a solo effort on his part, though," Mrs. Balfanz said. "I support his ministry."

"She's someone I can count on to walk by my side," he said.

Rev. Balfanz also is quite fond of the words of Micah 6:8, which ends with the phrase: "Walk humbly with your God."

The Balfanz's already have done a great job connecting with kids in the congregation and with young couples in their 20s and 30s, senior pastor the Rev. Dr. Mark E. Gehrke said.

"He's an energetic pastor," Rev. Gehrke said. "And he's a great listener. People really feel they have been listened to after talking to him."

Rev. Gehrke looks forward to mentoring him. "After 28 years in the ministry, I feel I have plenty to share with him," Rev. Gehrke said. "He's also teachable and wants to learn."

Rev. Balfanz was selected after an extensive search, Rev. Gehrke said. He was among 50 candidates that got boiled down to two; the vote to accept Rev. Balfanz was only two tallies short from being unanimous.

"Tim and I look forward to developing a collegiate and cordial relationship," Rev. Gehrke said. "He even asked me to participate in his ordination ceremony, which I was proud to do."

Rev. Balfanz graduated May 19 from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and was ordained on May 21 at First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Faith Lutheran is his first call, and he said he looks forward to the tasks at hand. He feels he will be able to identify with church youth, saying it feels like a calling that suits him well.

"You see, I was one of those kids who, after getting confirmed, left for a while," Rev. Balfanz said.

He stopped attending church for about five years, from the time he was 15 to age 21. Getting involved in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college brought him back, he said.

"I also want to be the type of person -- the type of pastor -- people feel they can come to," Rev. Balfanz said. "I do love to listen -- it's how you learn. I'm also compassionate."

His preaching style is energetic, he said. And he always tries to apply lessons to everyday life, even if it includes a Donald Duck reference or two. He said it's important to help people consider "what God is saying for us to do, here and now."

The Rev. Tim Balfanz
Address: Silvis.
Birth date: May 3, 1983.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science, communication minor, from Minnesota State University, Moorehead, Minn., graduating in 2007; Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.
Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minn.
Family: Wife, Grace Balfanz; parents, a brother and a sister, all in White Bear Lake; two dogs, Bear, a black lab/golden retriever mix, and Wini, a miniature dachshund.
Favorite Scripture: Micah 6:8.
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: Jonah.
Hobbies: Soccer, baseball, golf; Minnesota Vikings fan; reading; camping.
One thing I feel strongly about: Youth and family, and men's ministries.
I wish I knew how to: "Be more of a handyman," he and his wife said.
Something people may be surprised to know about me: "I once played for a U.S. soccer team in Europe." He played mostly midfielder for a Great Lakes soccer team in 1998-99.