A city like Perham, with just over 3,000 people, is made up of many people who quietly go about their day making this a better place to live. Everybody in Perham has a story, unique in their own way. We aim to tell those every day stories … 1 in 3,000.
"Perham is the bomb diggity," the Rev. Andrew Ratcliffe said with a smile.
He and his family have only lived in Perham for about a year and a half, but they've quickly fallen in love with the area. They moved to Perham from Nebraska after St. Paul's Lutheran Church reached out to them, inquiring about Pastor Ratcliffe leading their congregation.
"(We) enjoyed it down there, we weren't looking on leaving," he said.
But, they came up to Perham for a visit in February and the cold weather didn't deter them. After their preliminary visit, Ratcliffe got the invite for the job shortly after and, even though he wasn't originally looking for change, accepted and was installed in late April.
There were "several reasons" why Ratcliffe and his family decided to move to Perham. About six months prior to the visit, St. Paul's had first reached out about him moving there, but his father-in-law had recently died and his family didn't want to be that far from their extended family.
"Whatever happened, by God's design, they came back to me," Ratcliffe said.
When they came back, he and his family were willing to be farther away. The timing and other factors lined up, and Ratcliffe took the call as a call from God.
"I'm not just going to say 'God, shut up,' and hang up on him," he said. "I at least have to be open to what the Lord is potentially saying."
And they made the move from Nebraska to Perham.
Ratcliffe's first impression was that "the whole Minnesota nice thing, there's some reality to that," and that it was "fricken cold," he said with a laugh.
"We had a zillion people apologize for the winter we had last year," he said. "And, well, we expect that we're moving to northern Minnesota, that's just the norm."
This isn't his first time dealing with small towns or the Minnesotan cold, as Ratcliffe has lived in small towns for most of his life. When he was a child, he lived in Minnesota for almost seven years.
Although, there are some changes. Ratcliffe quickly realized that "we're in an area with a lot of bearded men," and that "hunting and fishing is the number two religion up here," he said.
The lakes and nature that come with hunting and fishing are something that Ratcliffe and his family found a love for this past summer. Part of what they like the most about Minnesota is the multiple state parks, and in Perham they enjoy having "so many things in our proximity."
"(We) have all the different things for us to do as a family ... we're not stuck in the house," he said. "You don't have to look that hard or look that far, it's right here."
His 4-year-old daughter, Cora, especially loves the Turtle Races in the summer. Ratcliffe volunteered to help at them last summer and said that he looks forward to getting more involved with the community. He's also working on St. Paul's church continue to become more involved and offer a wider variety of music ministry, among other things.