Mentoring and Music: Mina Choi Brings Vision and Heart to Pastoral Care - Princeton Theological Seminary

For the past 15 years, Princeton Theological Seminary alum Mina Choi, MDiv ’16, a Korean-American who grew up in Dallas, Texas, has managed to combine her three biggest passions—youth mentoring, pastoral care, and the organ. Choi began playing the organ in high school after a field trip to Meyerson Symphony Hall and majored in organ in college.

“Visually, seeing the organist—one person making this massive sound—and hearing one instrument creating an orchestra of different sounds, blew my mind,” she says.

Choi’s music career began after winning first place at the 1997 Texas All-State Piano Solo Competition and receiving the 1998 First Place Winner Scholarship from the Irving Symphony League of Texas. While working on her Master’s degree in music at Yale, Choi developed a love for theology courses, required as part of the program, and this led to her decision to attend seminary. Princeton Seminary was the only seminary she applied to, based on its strong reform tradition, and during her time there she felt God’s redeeming love and grace.

“I loved the classes I took, and I remember when I graduated, I wrote in my journal that I left PTS feeling a very different perspective on God’s heart for the church, and how much we can find hope through God alone,” she says.

After graduation, Choi decided to link her love of music with youth pastoral care, which led to her current roles as student ministries pastor at Messiah University (PA) and organist/director of youth music ministry at Doylestown Presbyterian Church (PA), where she is also a church member.

“It’s an opportunity to disciple youth through music, where I try to use all musical opportunities for spiritual formation,” she says of her work at Doylestown. “It’s very powerful to see how students encounter God through music, and our music-making together allows us to build authentic relationships to talk openly about God and faith.”

Choi took her mentoring skills farther afield as the founder and director of the non-profit SET Youth Summit, now in its 16th year. Through conferences and retreats, SET provides leadership development to young church leaders, particularly members of the Asian diaspora, throughout Europe. There are currently 35 SET leaders in the EU serving various local churches through hands-on ministry, while Choi provides spiritual and pastoral leadership to the group.

“Many immigrant churches in Europe don’t have a lot of resources for their youth” she says. “I want to train and equip these promising young people so they can return to their local churches to serve in youth groups and college ministry.”

Choi will come full circle when she joins Princeton Seminary on August 1 as the new Coordinator of Worship and Music. “I remember how chapel at PTS was such an important part of my spiritual formation,” she says. “I’m excited to share my music, ideas and experiences with the PTS community, and to work with and support future spiritual leaders as they discover their vocational journey.”

In the future, Choi plans to write and publish new worship and liturgical music ranging from modern contemporary to classical choral music. She is also looking at ways to provide practical tools for local churches to help train pastors in music leadership.

She will be performing at the Engle Organ Concert at Reunion in May and will be ordained this year for PC(USA).