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Staff Spotlight: Ju Young Lee

Hometowns: Taejon and Seoul, South Korea
Favorite food: seafood
Favorite book: Wise Thoughts for Every Day by Leo Tolstoy
Favorite movie: Life is Beautiful
Favorite composer: J.S. Bach
Favorite instrument: the human voice (organ is #2!)
Family: husband, Sungbae Hong, and three daughters: Yeram (17), Yesol (14), and Yeon (6)

How did you become the CPC interim organist?

Last fall I took a choral conducting seminar at the University of Minnesota. The professor was Dr. Kathy Romey, who is a close friend of Heather Hood [Director of Traditional Worship]. One day she asked, “Do you work at a church as an organist?” I didn’t currently have a job, and she found a way to introduce me to Heather.

You are from South Korea; When did you come to the United States?

I lived in St. Louis, Missouri from 2005-2007, while my husband was an MBA student at Washington University. We then went back to Korea, although even then I wanted to apply to a doctorate program. I returned to the States in 2018 with my three daughters. Originally the plan was just to stay for one year as a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, but more opportunities led us to Minnesota and now we have been here for almost three years.

How long have you been working with churches?

I’ve been serving worship services as an accompanist since I was eight years old! My father is a retired minister of a Methodist church, so I had a very early opportunity. I began to work as an organist when I was a freshman in college, and after I received my master’s degree, I served as a music director. I’m currently working on my doctorate in Organ Performance.

How did you meet your husband?

We actually met when I was a freshman in college at a Korean Traditional Music club, and we dated for seven years. My husband grew up in a Buddhist home, but he became a Christian before we married. I think everything was done by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t ask for him to come to church or tell him he needed to believe in Jesus to date me—I didn’t present it that way. At that time, we were writing letters, many letters. And at the end I would tell him that God loves him. Even him! This year we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary.

Our worship series this summer on Esther will be centered on God’s faithfulness. How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life?

I feel like I see God’s faithfulness in every moment! I especially see it in this moment, because I didn’t plan to spend more than one year in the States. And I didn’t plan to study the organ! I had turned to conducting, but now I have the opportunity to praise God on the organ bench. I think this is the best way—even if it wasn’t in my plans. God is leading me and He is showing that His goodness and faithfulness is in all things.

Ju Young Lee serves as Interim Organist.