Let's get to know each other... We'll go first.

Our Leadership Team

The staff here at Bee Creek UMC is comprised of men and women who love, care, and pray for every single person in the church. If you have any questions for any of our staff, feel free to reach out.

  • Laura Heikes  - Lead Pastor      

    Laura felt the call to ministry in college. It's been a wild ride: from working with migrant workers and learning how to preach in Spanish, to ministry in West Texas, then along the fast-growing I-35 Corridor, and now on the shores of Lake Travis.  Laura loves to look for what God is doing next. She's certain God isn't confined in the walls of the church, but is on the move in our communities...leaving signs of love for us if we just listen and look. 

    Laura is married to Kevin (an RN at Baylor Scott and White) and they have three kids. This family loves the outdoors, basketball, raising rabbits for 4H, and the beauty of the creeks and rivers in Central Texas. Laura's style fits well with who we are as a church: warm, friendly, and invitational. Laura is passionate about preaching and teaching in ways that help us apply God's word to our lives. 

  • Trent Smith - Lay Minister "No Walls" Worship

    Trent and his family have been members at Bee Creek UMC since 2011. He, along with his wife and children (Mia, Ella and Rowan) love their church and the friends they've made during their time here. Trent is a Customer Experience Leader at a large national bank  and in his spare time has been a volunteer youth leader at Bee Creek UMC. Trent is currently leading our offsite, non-traditional, "No Walls" worship service.

  • Linnea Falk - Operations Manager 

    Linnea is from West Texas and graduated from Texas State University in 1996 and got to Austin as quickly as she could. Linnea has an extensive background  in both the financial industry and event planning. She was a stay at home mom for 10 years to two beautiful children. She and her husband moved to Briarcliff in 2005. Linnea is a Stephen Minister, on the Hospital Visitation Team, volunteers in both Youth and Children's programs at Bee Creek.  She has also spent much of her time volunteering with her children's schools, her neighborhood, and served on the Board.  Linnea has been a member of our church since 2006 and loves being a part of our Bee Creek UMC staff.

  • Brandi Young - Bee Loved Preschool Director

    Brandi grew up in Seabrook, Texas. She moved to Austin in 1991 to attend college and never left. Brandi graduated from The University of Texas with a Liberal Arts degree in Psychology. She received her Montessori Certification to teach children ages 2 to 6 years old in 2008. Brandi has worked as the preschool director for Bee Loved for eight years. Brandi and her husband Paul own Fricano's Deli in Austin near UT campus. She's also the proud mother of two wonderful boys. 

  • Arielle Hobbs - Youth Director

    Arielle was born and raised on Long Island, NY. Arielle has known Jesus her whole life, and she is grateful for this gift. Arielle and her husband, Brandon, were on the board of directors for a youth-based ministry called “Emerge” in Destin, Florida before moving to Texas in 2014. Both she and her husband find great joy in serving teens and young adults. Arielle considers herself a thinker who is full of passion for people and life, and attempts to live her life as transparently as possible so that the light of Christ might cast its glow on all she does. Arielle and Brandon have three children and four French Bulldogs. Arielle is currently pursuing her Masters in Psychology.

  • Ryan Jewert - Children's Director 

    Ryan was born and raised in Pflugerville, Texas. While attending a summer camp his 8th grade year he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and devoted his life to serving Christ. His degree is in Biblical Counseling with an emphasis on youth ministry. Ryan worked at Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center for the past 4 summers because of his love of youth and children’s ministry. It is there that Ryan met his beautiful and talented wife, Laurel, who works for the camp as the Director of Public Relations. They have two pets, a puppy named Riley and a kitten named Minnie. Ryan is thrilled God has placed him in this church and looks forward to the wonderful things God has in store.

  • Karen Hoffman - Financial Specialist

    Karen brings over 25 years of experience in banking to work at Bee Creek. She and her husband, Gary, own the Paleface Feed and Garden Supply store which keeps her busy when she's not working at the church. Karen and Gary have one son, Jason, who  lives in the Austin area. Karen's knowledge and experience are an asset for BCUMC and we are happy to have her on the team. 

  • Laura Slinkard - Administrative Assistant

    Laura has an extensive background in administrative and front office work. She’s been married to her husband Phil, a corporate attorney, for over 30 years. Laura has three beautiful grown children, one set of boy/girl twins and another son, Adam, who is now with our Lord in Heaven. Laura’s “go-getter” attitude and sweet smile are a perfect fit at Bee Creek! 

  • Catie Franklin - Administrative Assistant

    Catie has spent her career as a self-employed business owner with her husband, Christopher.  Those adventures took them from Austin to Dallas, Atlanta, Florida, Colorado and now back home to Briarcliff.   She has been a member of our church since 2003.  Now that she has returned home and life has slowed down somewhat, she is joining our team!  We are very excited to have her!

  • Tim Barglsey- Buildings & Grounds Supervisor

    Tim is 62 years old and a true "Native Austinite" born and raised her in Austin, Texas.  Tim has been married to his wife, Elaine for 33 years and worked for TXDOT for 30 years.   He is retired and spends his time with family, riding motorcycles and playing music.  Tim loves helping people in need and sharing life in God's wonderful light.  Here a a few of Tim's favorite bible verses.

    Colossians 3

    Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

  • Polo Belaj - Campus Custodian 

    Polo and his wife moved to the US in 2013 from Albania. This was the first time Polo has ever moved. In fact, he was born and raised a family in the same house. Polo has two boys living in Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay, and one 2-yr old granddaughter that he loves to spoil. Polo has worked as a housekeeper at the Horseshoe Bay Resort and Walmart. He is shy and soft-spoken. Polo loves chess, European soccer, and world events. He is very happy that Bee Creek UMC asked him to become part of the staff.

  • Jim Echels - Music Coordinator

    Jim delights in his role at Bee Creek UMC as Music Coordinator and Generally Loud Person. Prior to working as a worship guy, he worked in the non-profit sector crunching all kinds of numbers, proving that God often has plans for us other than our own. Jim came to worship leading in a roundabout way, beginning by playing whatever instrument was around, the louder the better. Eventually churches asked him to sing more so that their services would be a little quieter. He prefers acoustic drums, analog keyboards, lefty guitars, and as few computers being involved in the musical process as possible. He also prefers his beverages, whether they are coffee, tea or water, to be served in large enough containers to be affected by lunar tidal patterns. Sometimes he enjoys speaking about himself in the third person, which is the only way in which he is similar to an NFL caliber wide receiver. Jim and Beth (his extraordinarily smart, beautiful and patient Aggie meteorologist wife) were married in 2001. He is currently in a friendly competition with his daughter Amelia (b. 2006) to see who can sing the loudest. He is losing. He is also trying to decide whether to teach his son Joshua (b. 2011) traditional or matched grip first. When he’s not leading worship or caring for his family, Jim can be found playing drums for numerous artists in the Austin music scene, including the Belle Sounds & Candace Bellamy.

  • Ron Reed - Gym Monitor

    Ron spent 20 years in the military serving the citizens of this great country. Ron currently works tirelessly serving the children of Texas as an employee of the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. Ron also serves others outside of the workplace as a member of Bee Creek United Methodist Church (BCMUC). His years of public service coupled now with being a member of BCUMC and attending the Walk to Emmaus, helped him re-establish his priorities in life, with God first and foremost on that list. Today, he can truly say that becoming a servant of God has made serving others a little easier and a more worthwhile, lifelong endeavor.

    Ron has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Midwestern State University (MSU), with a major in Criminal Justice and minor in Military Science. He also has an Associate Degree in Real Estate from Austin Community College. It is his pleasure to serve you.

  • Gustavo Bianchi - Pianist 

    Dr. Gustavo Bianchi has enjoyed a distinguished international career, having performed in halls across the US, South America, and Asia. His long list of honors and awards includes prizes at the Sidney Wright Piano Accompanying Competition (first prize, 2003), the prestigious Bartok and Kabalevsky International Piano Competition (first prize, 1998), and the Florida Young Chang Artist Competition (first prize, 1998) to name a few. He also received a Pre-emptive Fellowship to attend University of Texas at Austin.


    As a soloist and chamber musician, he has studied with and has been coached by renowned artists and pedagogues including Anton Nel, Menahem Pressler, José Feghali, Randall Hodgkinson, Leonard Mastrogiacomo, Sergei Schepkin, and Yara Bernette. In addition, his first piano teacher, Nadia Soledade, was a student of Alfred Cortot. Cortot studied at the Paris Convervatoire under Emile Descombes (a pupil of the famous composer, Frederic Chopin). He has studied piano pedagogy with Sophia Gilmson, Martha Hilley, Victoria McArthur, and Faina Bryanskaya.


    Dr. Bianchi was a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin from 2003 to 2005. Upon graduation, he was hired as an adjunct faculty for the Butler school of Music in the capacity of collaborative pianist. Since then he has performed and taught masterclasses for several universities and cultural organizations in the USA, from California to Pennsylvania. He served as Vice president of the ADMTA from 2011 to 2014 and has been on the board of the Mika Hasler Young Artist Competition Foundation since its inception in 2012. In 2014, Dr. Bianchi performed several concerts and masterclasses in Beijing, Xi'an, and Hangzhou, China, and last year he was invited to be a faculty member of the Burgos International Music festival in Spain. 


    Dr. Bianchi earned his doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his master's and bachelor's degrees from Florida State University. He also attended the pre-college music program at the New England Conservatory, as well as the Longy School of Music in Boston. He currently works in Austin where he is a highly sought-out pianist, collaborative artist, and teacher. He is also the pianist at Bee Creek United Methodist Church since 2005.