By Barbie Porter


An authenticated artifact will be up for bid this weekend. A silver coin dating back to the time of Christ will be one of the many items at the silent auction on Saturday, Feb. 27 from 3-7 p.m. at the Northwoods Harvest Barn Cowboy Church, 39410 State Highway 34, Detroit Lakes.

Other silent auction items includes gas cards, grocery gift cards, oil change gift certificates, quilts, crafts, gift baskets and much more. Sandwiches and refreshments will also be served and live music will be playing.

Contributed photo
Sandy Erickson and her husband Brian served those that attend Cowboy Church and live in the area.  

Gatherings of community members was something the late Pastor Brian Dean Erickson cherished about church. So, his family and friends think it is fitting to have such an event in his honor and to help the wife he left behind.  

By the time Erickson passed away at 60 years of age, he had made a measurable impact on the world. He led hundreds of people to Christ through his work, and helped the suffering find solid ground. Now, many in the congregation may be asking, who is there to help the ones that help everyone else?

To understand Erickson’s character, it may be best to look at the impact he had on those who knew him best­—his family. His daughter Katie Palmer recalled a childhood where she knew she was loved and learned about the important of connecting with nature. 

“He loved the Black Hills,” she said. “He lived out there for awhile. I have a huge love for hiking now, and what he taught me resonated and I passed it along to my kid.”

Palmer said she purchased a camper recently, and beforehand she sought advice from her father as to which model to purchase.

“He told me whatever I buy, there will be good and bad, but it is in investment in the memories I will be making with my boys that will bring life true value,” she recalled.

It was in the Black Hills that the 1978 Detroit Lakes High School graduate began feeling called to serve God as a pastor, Palmer said. A dream of starting a casual, country church where all felt as if they belonged, also took root. 

Erickson was always service-minded. He served his country in the Minnesota National Guard and Navy Reserves. Then he served the people in his community working as an occupational therapist before shifting his career focus to helping at risk youth in the school districts of Frazee and Detroit Lakes. While working for the Lord in different capacities, Erickson also studied to become a pastor. In 2005, he switched careers, opened the Cowboy Church with friends and dedicated his life full-time to serving the world on God’s behalf. 

The Cowboy Church is located along State Highway 34 near Height of Land Lake. In 2020, Erickson also became pastor of Pinewood Church in Menahga. Through his service he walked by the side of parishioners through the best of times, and the worst. 

A family friend, who asked to not be named, said Erickson told him about a few encounters that are hard to erase from the mind. His friend walked through hell to save another’s soul on more than one occasion.

His daughter said before her father took his own life, she had never considered the weight those in his profession carry. 

“It made me wonder who they, the leaders, turn too?” she said. 

The loss was sudden with no clues or hints as to what was coming, Palmer said.

“Now we are left with questions that will never be answered,” she said. “I just know the world lost this kind, caring person and his family is devastated to our core.”

In the grips of processing the news, Palmer did what her father would’ve likely done and tried to reach out to others who may be considering taking their life. She created a YouTube video that can be found on  the account named Katie Palmer. The video is entitled, “For Dad.”

“He passed on the 29th and I woke up on the 30th and had an idea. I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak at his funeral. I knew I couldn’t make it through what I wanted to say.”

– Katie Palmer about the passing of her father

Palmer decided to write a script and film herself, that way the piece could be played at the funeral and also for anyone who happened upon it You Tube that maybe needed encouragement to stick around, or reach out for help.

“My dad was a kind, giving man, and I don’t understand, but I know he had burdens we didn’t know about,” she said. “I also want people to remember him for the life he lived and not what happened at the end.”

The fundraiser was a surprise to the family,  as it was church family members that arranged the event.

“What an amazing way to help my step-mom with the financial burden she is facing,” Palmer said. “I can’t thank those that organized it enough, or those that attend.”

Contributions can also be sent to Truelife Church at P.O. Box 1006, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502. On the memo line of the check, or on the envelope, please write it is for the Erickson benefit. 

Taking over leading services for Erickson will be Pastor Trevor Janich.