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Linqing Chu: a young pioneering pastor at PHS

Pastor Linqing Chu with Sandy Johnston, a Stonecrest resident
Pastor Linqing Chu, right, with Sandy Johnston, a Stonecrest resident.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5, NIV

Meet Pastor Linqing Chu — or Lin, for short. She’s an inspiring young pioneer at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

Newly ordained, she ministers to older adults at Lexington Landing and Stonecrest in Saint Paul and Woodbury, MN, respectively.
 

‘Through God’s mysterious plan’

Writing to residents this past summer, she introduced herself: “My name is Linqing Chu (you can call me Abby) — a girl coming from the other side of the world in China. Through God’s mysterious plan, He brought me [here].”

“I grew up in an atheist family with a single mom,” Lin continued, “and you are probably thinking, ‘So, how did you become a Christian?’ The short answer: the Holy Spirit.”

Though quiet and humble, Pastor Lin’s faith journey tells another story: one of a bold, willing adventurer in face of doubt, struggle and much prayer.

Move to America to attend theological school? Okay, if I must. Become a pastor? Are you sure? Minister to older adults? Wait, what?

Learning to expect the unexpected, Lin embraced her first calling last week as a pastor to older adults.

She was ordained on November 16, 2021 — after completing internships and her Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary. Ordination is a ceremony to dedicate and commission a minister.

Watch highlights from her ordination:

 
 

Witness to Pastor Lin’s cross-cultural journey

To all who gathered, including residents, friends, area pastors and teachers, Luther Seminary Professor Mark Tranvik spoke of Lin’s education in China and Minnesota. “You come, Linqing, from a place where the Christian faith is under a lot of pressure. You have persevered, and you’ve even thrived in a country and a culture here that is not your own,” he said, relating from his personal experience as Lin’s semester exchange teacher in China.

“I know that is hasn’t been easy,” Professor Tranvik continued. “You left your family, your friends — all that is familiar and comfortable — and you entered graduate study on a difficult subject: theology. And you did it in your second language.”

Concluding, he said, “There’s a steely determination about Linqing that’s seasoned with a great deal of kindness and patience.”
 

A significant day for PHS and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Pastor Lin’s ordination marked not only an important milestone in her life, but in the evolution of ministry at PHS.

For the first time, a PHS community became the birthplace of a Lutheran pastor’s ordination and first calling.

Representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) — one of the largest church denominations in the country — Bishop Patricia Lull of the Saint Paul Synod presided over Pastor Lin’s ordination.

“We are delighted to have our first ordination ever in a residential community that is part of Presbyterian Homes,” stated Bishop Lull. “It is a great joy that we partner together.”

The nature of that partnership became clear when, during the ceremony, Bishop Lull said, “I present for ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament Linqing Chu, who has been prepared, examined and approved for this ministry and who has been called by the church to this ministry through Presbyterian Homes and Services” (emphasis added).

Finally, Bishop Lull pointed to the ultimate purpose of that one partnership among many in the worldwide Church. “Let it be acclaimed,” she announced, “that Linqing is a called and ordained minister in the church of Christ. She has Christ’s authority to preach the word of God and administer the sacraments, serving God’s people as together we bear God’s creative and redeeming love to all the world.”

Later in reflection, Pastor Chris Wheatley, who represents PHS as senior director of pastoral care services, commented, “It’s essential — we absolutely have to partner with the faith communities and denominations that serve the same people that we do. We can’t represent everyone alone, but together we can join the voices of Christians from all denominations and tend to their needs.”
 

A meaningful, relevant pastoral calling – first, second or … fifth!

Pastor Lin’s ordination is also a sign of hope for the future. As the demand for aging services grows across the state and nation, more ministers are needed. In fact, choosing elder care as a first calling will help fulfill that need sooner than later.

Elevating the pastoral call to older adults, Pastor Wheatley notes, “For Pastor Lin to be ordained as her first call to elder care here in an elder care community reminds us that this is a specialized ministry that requires special people.”

Watch: 'What's so amazing about being a pastor or chaplain with Presbyterian Homes & Services?'



And that calling comes with great rewards says Pastor Wheatley, who has a breadth of experience in ministry. “When people enter elder care, their thoughts turn almost automatically to life review and spiritual matters,” he explained. “They’re trying to figure out what they’ve already seen and what comes next. It’s an amazing place to be a pastor. It’s a privilege — you get to hear so many great stories and have deeper conversations than anywhere else I’ve ever served.”

Duane Larson, PHS senior vice president of operations, who also has firsthand experience, confers. “The holy moments are immediate,” he said. “So, we step into a very sacred and intimate space hearing their stories that are unique and that likely are not shared at times as openly with their own family.”

“It’s an opportunity to step into kingdom space and provide hope, support, laughter, celebrations and tears. It’s just a great ministry to connect with individuals and share the gospel,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Bishop Lull sheds perspective on the role of senior living communities within larger society. She called Stonecrest, the community in which Pastor Lin was ordained, “a really vital community” and continued, “I think it’s the witness that’s been tested through the decades. … I see the wisdom and vitality and the faithfulness that’s grounded right here.”

For Pastor Lin, she embraces her first calling from a global perspective. “In China we really honor our elders,” she said. “I value their life perspective and how they are so open hearted, welcoming and generous. The blessing goes both ways.”

Pastor Lin Chu, we at PHS delight in your coming, your calling and your obedience – indeed, a mystery of God’s plan!


Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to join our team at www.preshomes.org/careers.
 

You might also be interested in:

Get to know us: a Christian ministry
How can a PHS pastor help me or my loved one?
Do I have to be Presbyterian to live in a Presbyterian Homes community? (No.)
Do you have to be a Christian to work at PHS? (No.)

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