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'Here for a reason and a purpose'

There's a new pastor at Northwoods Life Church in Perham, and odds are, if you haven't already met him, you soon will. Jason Erickson, whose first official Sunday at the church was September 3, is not the type to hide behind a desk. Self-describe...

Jason Erickson, the new pastor at Northwoods Life Church in Perham, projects a friendly, down-to-earth persona. He says he likes to be "real with people" and he plans to offer fun and cooperative opportunities for the church to be used and viewed by the community "as more than just a Sunday destination." Marie Johnson / FOCUS
Jason Erickson, the new pastor at Northwoods Life Church in Perham, projects a friendly, down-to-earth persona. He says he likes to be "real with people" and he plans to offer fun and cooperative opportunities for the church to be used and viewed by the community "as more than just a Sunday destination." Marie Johnson / FOCUS

There's a new pastor at Northwoods Life Church in Perham, and odds are, if you haven't already met him, you soon will.

Jason Erickson, whose first official Sunday at the church was September 3, is not the type to hide behind a desk. Self-described as "outgoing and community-involved," he wants to be an active member of the Perham community, and a public face for Northwoods Life.

"I plan to offer opportunities for the church to be used and viewed by the community as more than just a Sunday destination," he said during a recent interview. "I'd like us-me as a pastor, but also us as a church-to take the initiative and be excited about being a part of this town and this community. I want us to be involved in the day-to-day activities that the community is involved in."

Erickson strives to be approachable, and he wants his church to be the same.

"My desire is that our church, first of all, is friendly and welcoming to anybody who walks through the doors," he said. "My passion is just to be real with people, to be genuine... and to reflect Christ by the way I live my life every day-in a real way, not just through the cloak of being a pastor."

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Erickson comes to Perham from Aitkin, Minn., where he was serving as the campus pastor of Heritage Church. He preached there most weeks, and led a small men's group. He and his wife, Kara, also helped organize women's and children's ministries.

He replaces Dirk Currier, who left Northwoods this past spring after about 23 years with the church.

Though Erickson's family lived in Aitkin for a number of years, he said coming to Perham felt curiously like "coming home." After spending just one afternoon here, "the whole family fell in love with the town," he said. "We know beyond a doubt that God has placed us here for a reason and a purpose."

He and Kara have four children: a grown daughter, Sharayah, and three sons, Lincoln, age 13, Solomon, 11, and Everen, 8.

Erickson said people in the community and the church, including his fellow pastors, Associate Pastor Stew Burns and Worship/Youth Pastor Sam Luthi, have been kind, helpful and gracious during his transition.

"I feel blessed to be able to help lead this congregation and to be able to work alongside the pastors that I have the pleasure of working with," he said. "I'm excited to be able to work and invest, on a daily basis, in the community of Perham."

Erickson has a degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, where he later went back to earn his teaching license. He taught science in Aitkin, Minn., for four years before starting a lumber company there with his father. The atmosphere at the lumberyard was one of laughter, fun and faith, Erickson said: "It was kind of a ministry."

After his dad passed away, Erickson tried to maintain that atmosphere. He ran the business himself for about 5 years, and he said it was during that time when he began to feel called to service: "God started doing something in my heart; preparing me for the next thing."

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After a lot of prayer and reflection, Erickson set out on the path to pastorhood. He received his credentials through the Assemblies of God, and sold his lumber business. Shortly after, in September 2015, he began working at Heritage Church. That experience eventually brought him here to Perham-a move he's convinced was meant to be.

His hope is that his congregation here, and anyone who visits Northwoods, "will discover God's beautiful plan and personal purpose for their lives."

"Jesus is more than just a religion," he said. "True hope, true joy, and true peace is found in a personal relationship with him."

A writer, editor and mom of four (two kids, two dogs), Marie's been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. She started at the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 2017 after working just down the road at the Perham Focus for several years. Before that, she was at the Herald-Review in Grand Rapids, Minn.
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