Celebrating Our Newly Ordained: Elizabeth Chu
Los Ranchos Welcomes Elizabeth Chu!
2021 has been a special year for Los Ranchos, already ordaining three distinguished women to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. In June and July, the E-News will celebrate each of them and their new calls through these spotlights. We welcome and give thanks to God for them!
Born in Taipei and raised in Dallas Texas, Elizabeth Chu first felt the call to ministry when graduating from the University of Houston at age 22. With a business degree in hand, Elizabeth landed a full-time position with AT&T in the operation marketing and management field. She was also volunteering 25 hours a week at her home church in Houston. Recognizing the deep sense of fulfillment she felt during this very busy period of her life, Elizabeth started to pray and discern a call to ministry.
It was three years later that she received her first full-time paid internship leading young adults. This opportunity led to Elizabeth’s decision to enroll at Fuller Theological Seminary where she graduated in 2014 earning a Master of Divinity degree, with a concentration in pastoral ministry. She started to discern about ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) during her time at Fuller, seeking God’s call for her.
Having come from a background where women were restricted from teaching adults, one significant piece of her formation was exploring gender roles in the Bible and wrestling with certain passages that speak to what God is calling women to do. By engaging in a comprehensive study of language and historical background of the Bible, Elizabeth became confident the Holy Spirit was blessing her with the opportunity to lead worship and teach.
Elizabeth has now served in full-time urban ministry work for over 10 years, most recently at La Canada Presbyterian Church, DOOR LA (an urban mission organization in Hollywood), and Immanuel Presbyterian Church. She has a special passion for working with college students, young adults and young families, engaging in discipleship and leading community outreach programs. At DOOR, Elizabeth loved working with youth and young adults ages 13-30, doing urban mission work, serving the homeless and leading discussions on social justice issues from a Christian perspective covering the difficult topics of poverty, immigration and racial injustice. She began to see discipleship and service as deeply intertwined, loving God and serving our world at the same time. “A beautiful opportunity,” in her words.
Her background in multi-cultural church denominations and experience in leading change has given Elizabeth a unique perspective on church cultures and the ability to dissect and grow them. She really enjoys taking a creative approach and trying new things. As director of Life Group Ministry at La Canada Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth grew the program from none to 30+ vibrant life groups in two plus years. With this primarily Caucasian congregation, it took an entire year and a good deal of work just to gain acceptance and overcome the negative impression of life groups that existed. By rebranding this ministry, trying a few different models, and meeting people where they were, she was able to create a comfortable space for them to tell their stories and discern what discipleship meant to them individually.
On a personal level, this ministry initially felt like trying to grow a garden in the desert. It was in her second week at La Canada when she was walking in the church garden during dry season in California. As she was walking, she noticed certain areas of plantings were greener than others, and it was as if God was giving her the imagery of what building this new ministry would be like.
In her new role as Associate Pastor of Formosan Presbyterian Church of Orange County, Elizabeth faces the challenge of serving a congregation with two distinctly different cultures: one, a more traditional Taiwanese-speaking congregation who were raised in Taiwan and emigrated in the last 20-40 years; and one, a congregation of young Asian-American adults, whose primary language is English and who culturally identify as Americans. While her primary function is to further develop the young adult congregation, she must also provide leadership for the older congregation, moderating the service and offering pastoral care. She knows it will be a big challenge to create a new ministry from an existing one, and she intends to listen for what God is doing and respect the direction the church is moving.
What are the Presbyterian Church’s most unique challenges today? “Research shows that millennials are known for being non-church people, but that doesn’t mean they are not looking for God,” Elizabeth shares. “I see a gap between the Church and the people who have a hunger for God, for spirituality.” Based on her understanding of recent studies, she believes that there is a great need for discipleship and spiritual formation. This means we, Christians, need to build authentic relationships with those who seek to have a relationship with God, inside of the church and outside of the church. We do so by following the Spirit of Jesus and in collaboration with others in the community.
Elizabeth deeply and genuinely believes that everybody needs to have a personal relationship with God. Jesus has saved her and leads her to live a life that glorifies God and honors others. She loves to help others to find the same joy through faith in Christ.
When she’s not working or reading theology books, Elizabeth enjoys nature – hiking and the beach. She also loves the performing arts, and when possible, traveling and learning about new cultures.