Story Magazine - Fall, 2010

Luther Seminary: A Family Tradition

by Tracy Behrendt, Correspondent

Growing up in a non-Christian family in Seoul, South Korea, Mikyoung Park knew little about the church. And given her longtime plans for a career in music, the church didn't seem like something she needed. But that changed when Park, '09, became one of four in her family to attend Luther Seminary over the past decade.

In 1990, she became the first in her expanding family to attend church. Ten years later, Park traveled to the United States to continue her doctoral studies in music at the University of Minnesota and met her husband, Joshua Choi, '08. As the two became more involved in the Presbyterian Church, Choi, who had been working toward his master's degree in electrical engineering, felt called to ministry. And when it came to choosing a seminary, they knew it would be Luther.

"My sister's husband, JoonHyuk Lim ('02), had studied in the Master of Arts program," Park said. "So, even though I did not know much about Lutherans because South Korea does not have many, I've known Luther Seminary since I have been in the U.S."

Lim would be the first in the family to attend Luther. He now serves as an Army chaplain affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Park's other brother-in-law, Chongsun Kim, is currently a Lutheran M.Div. student focused on Congregational Mission and Leadership. Choi, Park's husband, earned his M.Div. degree in 2008 and is working on a Master of Theology degree with an emphasis in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. He plans to apply to the Ph.D. program next year.

While all three attended Luther, each one has entered a different denomination. That makes family gatherings a time for great conversations.

"We are actually kind of a model of ecumenism," said Choi, who with Park became Methodist upon beginning at Luther. "We help each other and discuss many issues. It is a wonderful experience."

It was actually Choi's decision to become a pastor that got his wife truly interested in attending Luther.

"I will be a pastor's wife at a certain point," said Park, who now serves as the children, youth and family director at Northeast United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. "I thought I needed more knowledge in theology. So I visited the school website and found one program that was related to my former major--
Master of Sacred Music."

Last year, Park completed her degree and is now working toward her M.Div., making her the fourth in the family, and the first female, to attend Luther. Though Park isn't sure exactly what her and her husband's futures hold, they do feel called to minister to Minnesota's growing immigrant population. They have plans for multicultural ministries in the Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center area next year.

Their interest in multicultural ministries, just like their studies at Luther, is something their whole family shares. And, while Park knows other students have family traditions at Luther, she thinks her family's is particularly unique.

"My immediate family was not a Christian family, but now we will have at least three pastors in my generation. If I will be another one, it will be four," she said. "I believe it is not just accidental. God made us great companions for working his mission."