Staff Directory 10645071

Jean Hopfensperger

Reporter | Reporter - Philanthropy/Nonprofits
Phone: 612-673-4511
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: Spanish

Jean Hopfensperger is the faith and values reporter for the Star Tribune. She focuses largely on religious trends shaping Minnesota and the nation. 


A veteran reporter, Hopfensperger previously covered philanthropy, immigration, the state legislature, human services and Central American issues. Before joining the Star Tribune, she worked for several years in Central America, reporting on conflicts for U.S. newspapers such as The Christian Science Monitor. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota focusing on international politics and U.S. social policy.
Recent content from Jean Hopfensperger
Four who sought answers outside mainstream religions

Four who sought answers outside mainstream religions

‘As a scientist, you look at things that are testable’ Greg Pratt, a veteran research scientist, holds as truth the things he can observe, can…
Nancy Boler leads the Mindful Yoga class.

Fastest growing religion in Minnesota and around the country is 'none'

One in four Americans now belong to no religion, a trend fueling church closings and mergings.
Law enforcement officials investigated an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Aug. 5, 2017.

Shootings spur Minnesota faith groups to beef up building security

Minnesota's faith leaders, authorities on sacred books and prayer, are increasingly studying building safety handbooks, hiring security advisers, and inviting law enforcement to get to know their buildings.
Michelle Jensen talks to congregants following Sunday service at Hoff Lutheran Church in Rustad, Minn.

Fewer enter seminary as need declines, church budgets shrink

Fewer recruits are willing to be pioneers in a new spiritual landscape that requires them to juggle faith, fundraising and Facebook.
Marquita Mosby, right, shops at Revive’s food center, assisted by Dave Aanerud, left, and Mike Langhus, center.

Brooklyn Park Revive Church does some heavy lifting on hunger relief

The Brooklyn Park church is transformed into a grocery store once a month.
Julia Mann, front, rehearsed with the Together in Hope Choir last week. Choir member Elina Kala is to her right, Courtney Keenan-Young to the left.

Interfaith choir from Minnesota heads for the Vatican with a message of unity

About 200 singers and supporters are in Rome to premiere a Minnesota-grown faith project.
Then St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt, pictured in 2015.

Minnesota man sues Vatican, seeking files on abusers

The lawsuit points to investigation into former Archbishop John Nienstedt as example of Vatican cover-up.
Ron Stallworth is a former police detective who went undercover to investigate the KKK.
Photo courtesy of Ron Stallworth

Man who inspired 'BlacKkKlansman' to speak at St. Louis Park synagogue

Ron Stallworth doesn't view himself as a hero. The retired black police detective said going undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in 1978 "was…
Abuse survivors are asking if action will be taken against archdiocese officials in charge during more recent abuses, including former St. Paul and Mi

As archdiocese bankruptcy wraps up, many call for church leaders to face music

Archdiocese, survivors say change must go deeper.
The Rev. Ed Treat of Transfiguration Lutheran Church spearheaded Saturday’s conference to educate religious leaders about addictions, including the

Opioid crisis prompts Minnesota clergy members to take action

Faith leaders seek ideas on how to address growing addictions, especially opioids.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, left, clergy abuse survivor Jamie Huetmaker shook hands after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved a settlement plan that includ

Approval of $210M archdiocese settlement closes chapter for abuse victims

Some thought finalizing the settlement, the nation's largest for a bankrupt Catholic diocese, with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis might never happen.
“The archdiocese is grateful for the overwhelming support abuse survivors gave in voting for the joint plan of reorganization,” said Tom Abood, ch

Twin Cities clergy abuse survivors OK $210 million settlement

Vote clears way for Bankruptcy Court confirmation of plan on Tuesday.
Marlena Vernon taught a small group during a tai chi session at Pathways, an alternative healing center in Minneapolis.

As wellness center marks 30 years, its services are increasingly embraced

Pathways finds more sufferers who want to heal body, mind, spirit
Preschool children participated in a Sunday art project at The Well United Methodist Church in Rosemount, which has worked to integrate children with

Some Twin Cities churches learning/striving to accommodate children with disabilities

One in four children who have learning disabilities, developmental delays, anxiety and behavioral disorders never attend church, a study indicated.
The congregation at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church surrounded the Rev. Billy Russell and his wife, Theresa, as they prayed for strong at

Baptists gather in Minneapolis for a soul-searching week

The Rev. Billy Russell has been pitching the merits of Minneapolis to fellow National Baptist Convention members across the nation for two years, and this week about 15,000 faithful are taking him up on his offer to visit the Twin Cities for the denomination's annual gathering.
More than 400 people gathered recently at the Lake Harriet band shell for a service by First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, one of 15 faith commu

Lake Harriet Band Shell church is a Minneapolis Sunday tradition

Hundreds gather at the Lake Harriet Band Shell on Sundays for heavenly inspiration.
Richard Sipe

Richard Sipe, national expert on clergy sex abuse, dies at 85

The former monk from St. John's Abbey in Minnesota was one of the nation's foremost authorities on clergy sex abuse and a thorn in the side of the Catholic Church.
A Whole Foods employee pushes a laden cart out of the store, in New York, Oct. 30, 2015.

Religious shoppers less likely to be tempted to overspend

People of faith are more able to resist the temptation of impulse shopping than others, a new study suggests.
Jamie Heutmaker, far right, a victim of clergy sexual abuse, addresses media alongside other victims and family members during a news conference detai

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis clergy abuse victims to vote on settlement

Clergy abuse victims will begin voting on proposed settlement this month.
Student Josh Wyman enjoys a light moment in class at Luther Seminary, which announced a new fast track program for clergy training.

Luther Seminary in St. Paul gets record $21 million gift

Students are eligible for a tuition-free degree and experiments in learning.
Pastor Sarah Taylor leads Sunday service at LaSalle Lutheran Church

As churches close in Minnesota, a way of life comes to an end

Minnesota's mainline Christian denominations face unprecedented declines, altering communities and traditions celebrated for generations.
Children including Logan Hoyt, left, and Jude Riley, right, of Lakeville, MN, laid on “Gideon the comfort dog,” as he went on a walk with Pam Lien

Lutheran K-9 ministry links faith and fur in Minnesota

Bloomington church's "comfort dog" is one of a kind in the state

Catholic Charities sues St. Cloud Diocese over Children's Home property

Catholic Charities seeks to transfer ownership of Children's Home.
Delivery driver Bob Bezecny delivered a meal to Lois Seltzer, 96, from the Kosher Meals on Wheels program on June 15 in her St. Paul home.

For Jewish seniors in the Twin Cities, kosher Meals on Wheels provides a 'way to connect'

Metro-area program, operating for more than 10 years, helps Jewish seniors stay true to their faith.
Former Minnesota BCA Superintendent Tim O'Malley is director of the archdiocese's Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, stood beside J

Trust grows with new archdiocese system to address clergy sex abuse

New process subjects clergy abuse reports to prompt, tight scrutiny.
Jim Flannery of Shorewood holds his 15-month-old grandson Joey Ryan Flannery, of Chaska, to touch a fragment of the veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Traveling exhibit of more than 150 saints' relics shows staying power

The exhibit, "Treasurers of the Church," draws the Catholic faithful to an old tradition.
Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson embraced Marie Mielke, who was abused by a priest starting when she was 12, after she spoke during a news conference

Twin Cities parishes step up to help pay the $210M for clergy sex abuse

The $210 million settlement brought somber closure to years of disputes that have transformed the archdiocese.
Childhood clergy abuse survivor Marie Mielke gestured while speaking about her abuse and the settlement reached between abuse survivors and the Archdi

Victims of clergy abuse settle with archdiocese for $210M

More than 400 victims of sexual abuse will share in the settlement, which ends a protracted bankruptcy dispute, attorneys said. It still must be approved by a judge.
Nadia Alsherif, of Minneapolis, bowed her head for a prayer before Friday’s service honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

New Minnesota faith alliance takes on racism

Black and white church leaders are banding together to take on a "national crisis."
Matt Throne, Mark Warder, and Andross Martinson with the Pulse Twin Cities’ install team put up a large banner at Lebanon Lutheran Church promoting

Pulse Twin Cities Christian music fest and pillow fight comes to U.S. Bank Stadium

The May 18 event is the first major religious event to be held in the Vikings stadium.
Leo Tudela testified in 2016, when Guam lifted its statute of limitations on child sex abuse. He is plagued by memories of what happened to him as an

Minnesota priest accused of abusing 60 boys in Guam

Dozens of men accuse a 96-year-old priest of molesting them when they were boys.
National Guard chaplain Philip (Buddy) Winn held a “Blessed Ramadan’’ lawn sign, which was created by the Minnesota Council of Churches three ye

'Blessed Ramadan' lawn sign campaign in Minnesota is unexpected success

A campaign to support Muslims during their holiest month has attracted thousands of churches, schools — and the Minnesota National Guard.
Worshipers exited St. Paul Cathedral after the noon Easter Mass in St. Paul.

Parishes can't be forced into archdiocese bankruptcy, court affirms

Appeals court affirms assets of parishes, other entities not available for bankruptcy settlement.
Songwriter/activist John Bell will lead a “Big Sing” to mark Earth Day on April 21.

Earth Day 'Big Sing' comes to Minneapolis church

Group sings, once mainly religious, are being embraced by social activists — including on Earth Day.
Anwar Yahya, 11, Ismahaan Issack, 10, Mellisa Huesman, 21, and Said Yahya, 9, took turns jumping rope at Trinity Lutheran in Minneapolis.

2 Easters, 3 languages and a community of faith at Trinity Lutheran

150-year-old Trinity Lutheran keeps its welcoming arms wide open
Andy Heil grabbed some dessert at "Breaking Bread,'' an alternative religious service at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.

At Apple Valley worship service, faith and ravioli make a nice pairing

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church offers potluck smack in the middle of the service.

First clergy abuse settlement approved in Minnesota

The Crosiers, a small religious order in Onamia, will pay $25 million to 67 abuse victims.
Nina Berglund, 18, hopes to discuss archaic papal decrees with Vatican officials in Rome.

American Indian teens head to Vatican, hoping to overturn historic papal decrees

They formed the basis of the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, which shapes U.S. Indian policy to this day and haunts Indians' well-being, the group says.
Victim Ben Januschka and attorney Mike Finnegan spoke at a news conference about the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis attempting to block a cle

St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese objects to Crosier abuse settlement

Abuse victims argue late objection puts their hard-fought settlement in jeopardy.
Jesus, played by the Rev. Erik Lundgren, hugged audience members and exclaimed “He is risen!” during a dress rehearsal for the passion play at St.

Shakopee church keeps Easter passion play tradition alive

Passion plays date to the Middle Ages and are still popular in Minnesota.
“First there was the sex abuse. Then years of coverup. Then the archdiocese fought against us in the Legislature. Now it’s three years with no set

March 3: Archdiocese bankruptcy is dragging on, taking toll on all

Victims and parishes in Twin Cities Archdiocese dwell in uncertainty as bankruptcy enters its fourth year with no settlement in sight.
Insight: Andrew Scarborough asked a question at a Baltimore conference after study findings were unveiled.

Study shows why young Catholics leave the church

There are the growing numbers of young Catholics leaving the church — the focus of a new national study to examine why they're departing and where they're landing.
Bishop Donald J. Kettler in St. Cloud.

St. Cloud Diocese to declare bankruptcy after sex abuse claims

It's the fourth such bankruptcy in Minnesota.
Rev. Billy Graham was instrumental in launching powerhouse radio station KTIS at a time when Christian radio was a rarity.

Rev. Billy Graham rose to prominence during his years in Twin Cities

Graham's footprints still seen at University of Northwestern, KTIS.
Dave Zwick celebrates anniversary of Clean Water Act.Photos courtesy of: Clean Water Action, Washington DC

Obituary: David Zwick, a "Nader Raider" and clean water pioneer, dies

David Zwick was a student at Harvard Law School in the early 1970s when he joined a group of promising attorneys working with consumer activist Ralph Nader. He wound up heading a groundbreaking study of the nation's water pollution and launching the first grass-roots clean water movement.
Instructor Diane Bloomfield leads a Torah Yoga class at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul.

Torah Yoga: A new path to Jewish teachings

It is among a variety of faith-based yoga practices now being embraced by Minnesotans.
Ward nurse Ashley Vick at work. Vick, of Lakeville, assisted a patient aboard Mercy Ships docked in Cameroon last week.

Floating Mercy Ships hospital offers free medical care to Africa's poor

Ten Minnesotans are among the volunteers helping with care.
John Steger, on right, led a prayer group in prayer before they organized at Jaur Cafe coffee shop Friday in Minneapolis. The church outreach group or

Does God have a hand in Super Bowl? Minn. faithful weigh in

One in four Americans believe God plays a role in athletic games.
Hanna Bloomfield, left to right, and her husband Bob Karasov welcomed New England Patriots super fan family from Boston. Naty Katz, rear right, and hi

St. Louis Park synagogue has great Super Bowl offer, few takers

Just one group of seven — a family from Boston — took up the offer of housing.
With J.D. Steele conducting at right, Becky Bratton soloed with the Mill City Singers choir during the Bold Hope in the North program Sunday afternoon

Faith and football combine at unusual Super Bowl event

Nearly a thousand faithful celebrated at an official Super Bowl event that put the spotlight on one of Minnesota's less glitzy claims to fame — its national leadership in multifaith cooperation.
Calling it modern stained glass, Westminster pastor Tim Hart-Andersen showed off windows coated with a 3M product that looks like stained glass.

Westminster Presbyterian Church opens gleaming expansion to downtown Minneapolis landmark

A landmark downtown Minneapolis church opens its doors to the future.
The Rev. Columba Stewart is racing worldwide to digitize sacred manuscripts before they are destroyed.

Minnesota monk rescues ancient manuscripts from threats around the world

The Rev. Columba Stewart and his team at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville use digital photography to permanently preserve the treasures for the world to see.
Children sang in the the annual children’s Christmas pageant at the Salvation Army Lakewood Worship & Service Center in Maplewood.

Salvation Army's good deeds grow from little-known church

Salvation Army's mission stems from distinct Protestant sect.
The Rev. Curtiss DeYoung

New CEO of Minnesota Council of Churches a true believer in reconciliation

Curtiss DeYoung's unlikely track included Washington, D.C., South Africa and Chicago.
As part of the process, President Donald Trump will instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American Embassy from

Trump's move to call Jerusalem Israel's capital draws criticism, praise in Minn.

While some state religious leaders praised the president's decision to break with longstanding U.S. policy, others were nervous.
The Rev. Wes Felter of Berean Baptist Church in Burnsville.

Burnsville church is among the nation's fastest growing

Berean Baptist Church ranking is based on the annual survey of Protestant churches by Lifeway Research and published in Outreach magazine.
Warner

Obituary: Charlie Warner was 'heart and soul' of Minnesota's affordable housing efforts

An upbeat, gregarious man with a deep knowledge of housing policy, Warner inspired generations of Twin Cities leaders, one said.
After the parchment pages of the Saint John's Bible traveled to exhibits across the United States and Europe, they have landed a permanent home at a m

Acclaimed Saint John's Bible gets permanent home

Collegeville now hosts one of the few hand-scripted Bibles created in the past century.
Chaplain Dale Swan visited with Don Holberg, 99, in hospice care in Shoreview. Swan is being honored by the Cancer Society.

Twin Cities chaplain receives award from an unlikely source

Dale Swan is a hospice chaplain best known for visiting hundreds of terminally ill patients. He provides not just spiritual support but everything from birthday parties to mock college graduations to veterans' events.
.

Can you be good without God? Most U.S. adults now say yes

In a new poll, 56 percent of adults surveyed say you can be a good person without divine faith.
Kaanasia Msangi, a Tanzanian student studying to be a minister, served communion at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, where the Swahili con

'Lutheran is not Lake Wobegon': After 500 years, faith expands to new cultures

The denomination, eroding in Europe and the United States, is being embraced by thousands in other countries -- and they're shaking up the old rituals.
The National Lutheran Choir performing at the Basilica of St. Mary

Martin Luther celebration spirit sweeps Minnesota

Martin Luther is the star of symphony, song and celebration as 500th anniversary draws to a close.
“You have to be careful about what you say, and who and where you say it,” said
Katie Zuraff, a pastor’s wife.

Marriage to a minister is mixed blessing, survey finds

A new survey of pastor spouses, conducted by LifeWay Research, found many feel isolated with few close friends and considerable financial worries.
Syeda Tarannum, right, of the Northwest Islamic Community Center, chatted with Rabbi George Nudell and Liba Casson Nudell.

Minnesota Muslim-Jew alliances multiply in new political climate

Thanks to groundwork laid by religious leaders over the years, and jolted by heightened anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic tensions, Minnesota leaders of the two faiths are forging new alliances and bolstering existing ones.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda is known for being an accessible bishop. Here, he chats with Simon Strand, 11, after the Rural Life Mass at the Dahlheimer fa

Archbishop Bernard Hebda has embraced Minnesota — and his flock

Archbishop Bernard Hebda never expected to land in the Twin Cities, but he embraced Minnesota life.
“We soon realized we were doing something pioneering,’’ said Mount Olive’s Art Halbardier.

Mpls. church seeks for earth to power its heavenly work

The faithful at Mount Olive Lutheran Church just wanted to make their 80-year-old building energy-efficient, a tangible step to care for God's creation. They didn't know they'd be blazing a trail for geothermal heating.
St. John’s Abbey, facing more than 60 lawsuits related to sexual abuse of children, released the names of three more monks accused of abusing childr

Names of 3 more St. John's Abbey priests who sexually abused children are released

The Collegeville abbey still has more than 60 lawsuits pending.
Emma Townsend, 4, of New Richmond, Wis., drew pictures on a cardboard box used to pack dried meals for Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. She was vo

Minnesotans gear up to help hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and at home

Relief workers and volunteers are heading to Texas, and now Florida, to help storm victims.
A woman held a book about reformer Martin Luther as she stood by Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 2016.

American Protestants believe more like Catholics, survey finds

Some U.S. Protestants are unaware of the Reformation, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Archdiocese bankruptcy plans face off in court

Archdiocese bankruptcy plans face off in court

Judge hears competing plans to settle the claims, assigns the archdiocese some homework.
Bill Hirabayashi

Obituary: Bill Hirabayashi, 93, survived internment camp

Bill Hirabayashi was eager to enlist in the U.S. Army after Japan bombed the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. At the recruitment…
Amal, center at right, and Hamda Abdikader practice Arabic with Muse Hussein during class at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center on Monday.

Bloomington Islamic Center picks up pieces after explosion

Mohamed Omar, the center's executive director, was daunted by the prospects of hosting a community event Tuesday night expected to draw thousands of supporters. But he was also very grateful.
Pastoral intern Kurt Hagestuen led congregants in prayer before communion at the Crosslake Lutheran Church outdoor service.

Tourist season fills Minnesota churches Up North

As Twin Cities churches lament their empty pews this time of year, the metro faithful can be found in the chapels of lakeside towns.
Svetlana Alexievich Photo by Erik Refner/ New York Times

REVIEW: 'The Unwomanly Face of War,' by Svetlana Alexievich

NONFICTION: This oral history by Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of women who served in World War II.
LeeAnn Baker from Marcell, Minn., right, and Marilyn Martell from Mason City, Iowa, left, filled bags with toiletry items at Women of the ELCA confere

Minneapolis gathering highlights growing global role of Lutheran women

The triennial gathering of the Women of the ELCA, running through Sunday, shows how the rank and file has been carving its own path in Lutheran service.
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