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Erica Pearson

Reporter | Features
Phone: 612-673-4726

Erica Pearson covers faith and spirituality for the Star Tribune. Before joining the Star Tribune, she spent more than a decade at the New York Daily News, where she was an assistant city desk editor.

A Wisconsin native, Pearson has covered everything from immigration to cops and courts to lifestyle news.
Recent content from Erica Pearson
Schulze Lake Beach in Lebanon Hills Regional Park was closed Friday.

Schulze Lake in Eagan closed due to potential viral outbreak

Beach, water activities off-limits in Lebanon Hills Regional Park until further notice
Missing kayaker's body found in Mississippi River in St. Cloud

Missing kayaker's body found in Mississippi River in St. Cloud

A boater called 911 to report the discovery at the St. Germain Street bridge.
The University of Minnesota Undergraduate Student Conferral Ceremony was held at Huntington Bank Stadium on May 13.

Minnesota's class of 2023 offered heartfelt advice, crowd-sourced content and humor

Keynote themes include embracing "lived experiences," drawing your own Venn diagram for success
Humanists MN paid for two billboards, including this one at Como Ave. and Marion St., this spring.

Minnesota humanists take out billboards to spread the secular word

The state's largest group of nonbelievers aims to fight what they see as a push to impose Christian beliefs in government.
Co-owner Tay Herbaugh jokes with a customer at the Bloom Bums Crystals & More stand inside Keg and Case Market.

Crystals fill a spiritual need for anxious, stressed Minnesotans

In times of anxiety and loneliness, stones like selenite and rose quartz are popular.
At the new Punk Rock Museum in Las Vegas, the old sign from Minneapolis’ defunct Triple Rock Social Club hangs behind the bar.

Planning a trip to Las Vegas? Here are 4 museums worth gambling on

Spots include a new punk-rock museum with a surprising Minnesota connection.
Rabbi Sim Glaser lectures during a class on mystical Jewish texts in 2004.

Sim Glaser, Minneapolis' rock 'n' roll rabbi, dies at 67

Of all the many memorable sermons Rabbi Simeon "Sim" Glaser gave at Minneapolis' Temple Israel, the one where he brought along his dog trainer stands…
Drew Brockington is not really an astronaut.

Minneapolis writer behind CatStronauts graphic novels is ... allergic to cats?

Graphic novelist is set to appear at Talking Volumes event in Rochester.
Jim Zieba mixed up a batch of egg coffee at Salem Lutheran Church’s State Fair dining hall in 2018.

How did egg coffee become a Minnesota tradition?

This smooth brew was a common offering around the state before the proliferation of modern coffee machines. You can still find it, if you know where to look.
Amin Aaser during his nightly “Ramadan Camp” livestream show.

From his Brooklyn Park studio, this dad brings 'Ramadan Camp' to thousands

Amin Aaser founded Noor Kids to help give Muslim children a sense of pride in their religious identity
Blaine’s Renovation Church holds the Twin Cities’ largest egg hunt.

More Minnesota churches are going all in on everything Easter — even the bunny

Massive egg hunts, petting zoos, even an egg roll food truck are part of a "holistic" approach to the holiday.
TC Jewfolk’s matchmaking service helps people find a seder or extend an invite.

This Passover matchmaking service finds spots at Twin Cities seder tables

TC Jewfolk helps people find a seder or extend an invite.
Corned beef will still be on the menu for many Catholics this St. Patrick’s Day, even though the holiday falls on a Friday.

This St. Patrick's Day, it's OK for Catholics to eat corned beef in St. Paul, but not in New Ulm. Why?

Most Minnesota bishops have granted a special dispensation for the holiday, which falls on a Friday.
Feeling a little tired after the time change? A sleep expert gives insight.

Don't lose sleep about 'springing forward'

A Twin Cities sleep educator answers all your questions about snoozing.
Jack Tshida worked out with weights at ReDo Fitness inside Spring Valley Lutheran Church.

These Minnesotans are combining faith and fitness in surprising ways

Physical well-being is part of mission of a growing number of churches.
The Rev. Doug Donley’s clever phrases are on display at University Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

This Mpls. pastor uses his church sign to spread joy — part dad joke, part holy missive

At University Baptist, the Rev. Doug Donley telegraphs his church's mission and some humor.
Joan Lexau

Children's author Joan Lexau dies at 93; Minnesota was 'heart and home'

Joan Lexau, who died in January at age 93, wrote more than 50 books, including "That's good. That's bad." and "Striped Ice Cream."
Brian McNeill at his home in Minneapolis in 2020.

Pope's comments answer prayers for Twin Cities LGBTQ community

This week, the pontiff called on bishops to reject laws that criminalize being gay.
Scout Isaac Ortman has spent more than 1,000 nights outside.

Duluth Scout sleeps outside for more than 1,000 nights — and counting

For the 14-year-old, the challenge is "just fun."
Ali Khoshini checks out a display explaining how bias works in the brain.

Science Museum exhibit shows how bias is part of being human

The Bias Inside Us, a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, will be here through Feb. 24.
Pope Benedict XVI, photographed in Turkey in 2006, stepped down in 2013, the first pope in 600 years to retire.

Minnesotans set to remember Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Memorial Masses are planned at the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.
This holiday will be the first shared by several congregations now housed at New Branches in Minneapolis.

One home, three churches — and a shared Christmas in Minneapolis

By banding together, three denominations are sharing a building and brighter futures.
St. Paul’s own big top Circus Juventas in St. Paul offers youth, from toddlers to young adults, training in a wide variety of circus arts.

10 novel 'kidsperiences' make great gifts

Dogsledding, llama-hugging, indoor ziplines and more offer fresh thrills for kids of all ages.
The River Valley megachurch, with multiple locations including this one in Apple Valley. is focusing on Christmas Eve services but not holding any ser

Church on Christmas Day? Some Twin Cities pastors are giving it a pass

Dec. 25 falls on a Sunday, but some Protestant churches say members would rather be home on Christmas morning.
Sami Rahamim, left, and Laura Zelle of the Jewish Community Relations Council, spoke on antiemitism during a “lunch-and-learn” event at ModernWell

These Minnesotans are pushing back against the rising tide of antisemitism

They are combating hate with workshops and conversations.
The Kugel Kindness crew in the kitchen of Bet Shalom synagogue in Minnetonka.

2 hours, 20 kugels, 1 recipe for kindness: Minnesota synagogue delivers comfort

Bet Shalom group Kugel Kindness gives "a little lift" to fellow congregants with delivered meals.
The Rev. Patrick Neary will be St. Cloud’s next bishop.

Pope appoints Indiana native as new bishop in St. Cloud

Pope Francis appointed the Rev. Patrick Neary to succeed Bishop Donald Kettler.
Illustration by Mike Rice, Star Tribune

Can you eat your Christmas tree? A Twin Cities forager reveals the answer

Being able to correctly identify edible trees — and reach the branches — is essential.
A shrine to St. Cloud, the patron saint of the Diocese of St. Cloud, is inside St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown.

St. Cloud priest who pleaded guilty to sex abuse is dismissed from priesthood

While serving a prison sentence for criminal sexual conduct, Anthony Oelrich had remained a priest.
Angels of the Prairie Chapel and grounds in Cambridge., Minn. on Sunday October 23, 2022.

Minnesotans gave these three old churches surprising second lives

Abandoned spaces and forgotten altars are reinvented — as a brewery, vacation rental and wedding chapel.
Retha Dooley

Retha Dooley, recovery leader, dies at 74

A manager at Rolling Soles on Lake Street, she also helped build a community of outdoor skaters.
Toddler shot, wounded in Minneapolis, police say

Toddler shot, wounded in Minneapolis, police say

The girl is hospitalized but not gravely injured.
Task force finds drugs, guns and nearly $100K in northern Minnesota home

Task force finds drugs, guns and nearly $100K in northern Minnesota home

The bust took place at a home in Virginia, Minn.
Art teacher Bill Kobe was excited to find treasures for his class at the Circulation Day event at Unity Minneapolis in Golden Valley on Sept. 5.

Golden Valley church promotes 'decluttering with a purpose'

A core belief called the "law of circulation" frees space for something new by getting items to those who need them.
A shrine to St. Cloud, the patron saint of the Diocese of St. Cloud, is inside St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown.

Survivor wants to know what will happen to abusive St. Cloud priest once he's out of prison

The Rev. Anthony Oelrich pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct, yet is still a member of the priesthood.
Queen Sonja of Norway is set to visit Minneapolis.

The queen of Norway is coming to Minnesota

Queen Sonja will help a Minneapolis church celebrate its centennial, meet the governor and more.
Deacon Lauren Morse-Wendt, from left, of Edina Community Lutheran Church and pastors Jeff Sartain and Anna Helgen with their church’s flower bed sig

Some Twin Cities faith communities are becoming more vocal in supporting abortion rights

Many Minnesota churches have long been part of the anti-abortion movement, but local religious perspectives on abortion are diverse and often nuanced.
Karen Armstrong will appear at the Fitzgerald Theater on Sept. 14 as part of Talking Volumes to talk about her new book, “Sacred Nature: Restoring O

Author and former nun Karen Armstrong reflects on climate change and 'Sacred Nature'

Talking Volumes guest wonders: Is there a spiritual solution to climate change?
Eddie Swartzentruber remembers the clothes he wore the night he snuck out of his house and no longer was Amish.

What's it like to be Amish? Minnesota man answers all on TikTok

Eddie Swartzentruber ran away from his settlement in Harmony, Minn., as a teen.
Meta Herrick Carlson read passages from her book “Ordinary Blessings for Parents: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Family Life” at Moon Palace

First day of school? Dad bod? Unsolicited advice? Twin Cities pastor has a blessing for that

Meta Herrick Carlson's book "Ordinary Blessings for Parents" has a verse for nearly every parental moment.
Sanctuary Covenant Church held barbeques at parks around the Twin Cities this summer help members reconnect.

With drive-in movies, barbecues and ax throwing, Twin Cities churches aim to beckon people back

Disc golf. Board games. Ax throwing. BYOB (bring your own bow) archery shoots.These may not be your typical church events, but they pepper the calendars…
Hot dish ministry volunteer Belle Scott delivered a meal to Gene and Jolene Roehlkepartain.

Minnesota's hot dish ministries serve parishioners in need

These volunteers organize comforting meals when church members need them most.
The World’s Largest Floating Loon from Virginia, Minn., is coming to the Minnesota State Fair.

Minnesota State Fair hopes it's 'back to normal' this year, with revived features — and a giant loon

Baby animals, amateur talent, mass karaoke and a giant loon are among the beloved attractions returning or debuting at 2022's Great Minnesota Get-Together.
Penny Baumann, 1, smells a zinnia benary giant flower harvested by her mom, Andria Baumann of Andover, as they picked flowers for a bouquet at Emery A

Pick your own flowers at these U-pick flower farms in Minnesota

A growing number of pick-it-yourself flower farms taking root in Minnesota.
Benjamin Alexander Russel

Anoka man arrested, charged with murder of infant daughter

Baby died in his care 13 years ago, police say
The sun sets — and so do the sunflowers — at Green Barn Garden Center in Isanti, Minn.

How to grow your own majestic sunflower patch

Tips from Minnesota farmers on how to plant and which varieties to choose.
Gerry Sell at St. Joan of Arc Church in 2008.

Geraldine 'Gerry' Sell, community activist and neighborhood advocate, dies at 88

Founder of the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group in the 1960s, she was a force for positive change.
The Rev. Roberto “Tito” Serrano poses with the Miami Marlins mascot after throwing out the first pitch.

The Bleacher Brothers stop at Target Field for a game and a mission

The pilgrimage of the traveling friars will take them to all 30 MLB stadiums to spread a message of "radical hope."
Pastor Sara Wilhem Garbers blessed Fiona Watson while Erin Watson held son Julian during a baptism ceremony at Meetinghouse Church in Edina on June 12

Many Minnesota churches are putting their faith in new names

The change comes as many congregations in Minnesota and across the country reconsider their names in an effort to reflect current sensibilities on history and racial justice. They're also reacting to dwindling numbers in the pews, especially among young people.
Parishioners walk the labyrinth at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines, Minn.

The Twin Cities, a hot spot for labyrinths, ships portable paths around the U.S.

Schools, churches and companies use the walkways for workshops and retreats.
Rev. Yolanda Norton gave an impassioned sermon during the “Beyoncé Mass” service at Plymouth Congregational Church on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Min

Beyoncé Mass comes to Minneapolis

Worship services inspired by star held in Plymouth Congregational Church, set for George Floyd Square
Dale Carlson

Dale Carlson, Hillside Cemetery superintendent and director at Washburn- McReavy, dies at 72

He took a job with the grounds crew as a teen and rose to become foreman and superintendent before overseeing wider operations.
Pysanky are a part of fundraising efforts for Ukraine this year.

Minnesota churches host Ukrainian Easter egg workshops and sales to help relief efforts

As Orthodox Easter approaches, they are pitching in with pysanky workshops and fundraisers.
In the front from left: Barbara Souther, Carolyn Brunelle and Lisa Drew rehearsed with director Phillip Brunelle for an Easter Sunday service at Plymo

This Easter Sunday, Minnesota church choirs are letting their voices ring again

Easter Sunday's celebratory sounds set to return for singers and congregations.
Some Seder meals make current events part of the tradition.

These Minnesotans are bringing social justice to the Seder table

This Passover, some Jewish families are telling not only the story of the Israelites, but of George Floyd, too.
Imam Asad Zaman led a group of teenagers including youth leader Maaz Mohammad, right, in a discussion on Ramadan at Blaine Muslim Community Center on

Muslim teens in Minnesota prepare for holy month with 'Ramadan rehearsal'

Youth leaders at Blaine Muslim Community Center offer spiritual and practical help before fasting begins.
Pastor Travis Norvell heads home after an after-service gathering at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis on Sunday, March 20, 2022. Biking p

On the go with Minneapolis' pedaling pastor

G. Travis Norvell on his new book and how he got MPR to include daily bike commute reports
The International Owl Center’s latest auction includes this painting, shown as a detail.

Minnesota International Owl Center to hold more auctions to benefit Ukrainian kids

First auction of owl art raised $100,000.
Worship apps prompt Minnesotans to pray every day

Worship apps prompt Minnesotans to pray every day

Newly popular prayer apps like Hallow and Glorify follow the successful formula of meditation apps.
Minnesota’s International Owl Center is hosting a benefit auction that includes this painting (shown as a detail) by a 10-year-old Ukrainian girl.

Art by Ukrainian kids to be auctioned by Minnesota's International Owl Center

The sale of the art, collected through the center's annual art contest, will benefit Ukrainian children.
Claude Riedel is a Minneapolis artist known internationally for crafting Ner Tamids -- the beautiful “eternal lights” that hang in Jewish synagogu

Minneapolis artist spreads the sacred light to synagogues around the world

Local show celebrates the work of Claude Riedel, who has created ner tamids for more than 175 synagogues.
The Rev. Michael Le Buhn Jr. placed glitter ashes on Paul Wyatt of St. Paul on a Hastings street corner on Wednesday. The purpose of the glitter ashes

Some Hastings clergy mark Ash Wednesday with glitter to support LGBTQ faithful

New efforts add sparkle to the solemn first day of Lent.
Rabbi Gershon Grossbaum readied the menorah before the start of the 2020 Drive-in Chanukah Spectacular at the St. Louis Park Lunds & Byerlys.

Why did so many Jewish people move to St. Louis Park decades ago?

The western suburb is famously associated with Minnesota's Jewish population, which built a sizable community there in the latter half of the 20th century.
At St. Augustine Church, the Rev. Robert Grabner presided over communion at the Latin mass service in South St. Paul, Minn. on September 6, 2021.

Generational shift over worship roils some Twin Cities Catholic congregations

Many young priests are more traditional, alienating some older church members.
Rabbi Jill Crimmings rolled and braided challah dough at her home in Minnetonka as family dog Zelda kept a watchful eye. She tells biblical stories wi

Every week, Minnetonka rabbi tells stories from the Torah in braided bread

Bet Shalom Congregation's Jill Crimmings illustrates a weekly Torah reading one intricate challah loaf at a time.
Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, center, arrives for a great chanting ceremony at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on March 16, 2

Twin Cities Buddhists honor Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh

They join a worldwide outpouring for the influential teacher and peace activist who died Saturday.
Rabbi Michael Adam Latz in the sanctuary of Shir Tikva.

Prominent rabbi resigns from south Minneapolis synagogue Shir Tikvah

Michael Adam Latz, a prominent social justice advocate, had "significant issues" with staff interactions
The Rev. Jia Starr Brown resigned after the discovery of “financial obligations exceeding $6 million” at First Covenant Church.

The Rev. Jia Starr Brown resigns from Minneapolis' First Covenant

The senior pastor had been congregation's first woman, first Black person and first gay person to fill the role
Are you a bad sleeper? Even a small break from booze could help

Are you a bad sleeper? Even a small break from booze could help

Alcohol has an outsized effect on rest because it worsens sleep in many ways.
SouthCross Community Church’s annual drive-through living Nativity brings a bit of Bethlehem to Burnsville.

Minnesota's outdoor Christmas pageants bring congregations together

More churches have started hosting drive-through events in the pandemic.
One shot near Eagan outlet mall

One shot near Eagan outlet mall

Police say victim was brought to nearby hospital, but did not provide condition
Timothy Lee Otto

Hastings man charged with burning friend's dead body in a trash can

Timothy Lee Otto charged Friday in July incident
The U’s Bell Museum has plenty to offer, from stargazing parties to planetarium film festivals.

Bell Museum 'star parties' take Minnesotans to the 'edge of the universe'

For now, the monthly star parties are a virtual experience. A camera at the back of the museum's telescope captures close-up images, which are streamed via Zoom.
Shot in 1918, “Grace” by Eric Enstrom is the official state photograph of Minnesota.

Minnesotans reflect on the power of giving thanks before a meal

Whether you say grace, give a blessing or go DIY, dinnertime rituals create connection and mindfulness.
Rosemary “Pinky” Hail Conner

Rosemary "Pinky" Hail Conner, tribal advocate and Marine veteran, dies at 81

In her hometown of Watonga, Okla., Rosemary Hail Conner was teased for wearing hand-me-down clothing. That's why the brand-new pink dress she received as a…