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Global Vision - Spring 2009

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International Student Profile

Seminary a Family Tradition

by John Klawiter, M.Div. Jr.

For the Park family, the old adage "it's a small world after all," really is true. Three of the four sisters in the Park family have left their home in Seoul, South Korea and now live in the Twin Cities.

But what really makes it a small world for their family is that the three sisters all have husbands who have studied or are currently students at Luther Seminary. Perhaps even more amazing is that along with their husbands, Mikyoung, the eldest of the four Park sisters, has also found herself immersed in a theological education at Luther Seminary.

"I never thought I'd be a seminarian," said Mikyoung Park, a senior in the Master of Sacred Music program, "but I'm here."

Since age 11, Mikyoung was professionally trained to be a singer. When she came to Minnesota in 2000 to complete her doctoral work at the University of Minnesota (she graduated in 2006), she met her husband, an electrical engineering master's student, Joshua Choi.

The Journey to Seminary

When Choi felt the call to attend seminary, he found Luther Seminary, just down the street from where the two lived. Choi earned his Master of Divinity in the spring of 2008 and is currently working on his Master of Theology.

With her husband studying to become a pastor, Park decided a theological degree would also be valuable for her as a pastor's wife.

"When [he decided to come to Luther], I realized that he'll be a pastor and I'll be a pastor's wife," said Park. "I wanted more theology!"

The first year of study was challenging for Park as she gained familiarity with theological terms and ideas that were new to her. "It was a strong training period," says Park. "Half of my coursework was in theology and I couldn't understand [all of] the terms [at first]."

The challenge paid off. "[My studies] gave me time to think about becoming a deacon pastor," said Park.

Choi will be ordained as the elder pastor in the United Methodist Church, and his wife plans to join him as the deacon pastor.

Park's education has prepared her to take the next steps with her ministry. "It's such a great place for learning," Park said of Luther, "especially in the mission field."

Family Ties

Having traveled so far to come to Minnesota, it has been a great benefit for Park to have two of her three sisters living close, especially as she and her husband are raising two children, Tim, age 10, and Michelle, seven months, while also attending seminary.


The second eldest sister, Eunsun, has remained in Seoul with her family.

Minsun, the youngest of the sisters, lives just a floor below Park's family in Luther Seminary's Sandgren Apartments. She and her husband, Chongsun Kim, who is currently studying for a M.A. in theological studies, have a daughter, Esther, who is almost two.

When Kim decided to study theology, he turned to Park, who recommended that he study at Luther.

"I told him, if you're going to study, study here [at Luther Seminary]."

She says Kim's decision to do so gave the added bonus that "it's less lonely having [my sister] here and it's good for the children to see each other almost every day."

Based upon Park's recommendation, the couple moved from Seoul to St. Paul, where Kim joined his sister and brother-in-law in their studies at Luther Seminary.

The third youngest sister in the Park family, Sunkyoung Park, is married to Joonhyuk Lim, a 2002 M.A. Luther Seminary graduate, who serves as an associate pastor at Korean Evangelical United Methodist Church in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

"They live in Plymouth and have two children, Elizabeth is five and John is four," says Park. "It's good to [have the families so close together]. It's unusual to all live in the same city."

While they may find it unusual to all have relocated to Minnesota, the Park family might just have made theological education at Luther Seminary a new family tradition.



The Park family in the photo above:  Front Row, L-R  Esther, John, Elizabeth, Janhyuk.  Middle Row, L-R Chongsun, Mikyoung, Michelle Tim.  Back Row, L-R Minsun, Joshua, Tim.