Tony Tian-Ren Lin

Sociologist

Clergy

Writer

Program Director for the Leadership Development initiative at Trinity Church Wall Street

My life in brief

Taiwan is the country of my birth. I am the descendant of a Scottish-Canadian Presbyterian minister born in 1844. Since I am also an ordained Presbyterian minister, there’s been a Presbyterian clergy in my family in every generation in my family since Christianity arrived to Taiwan. Like my great-great-grandfather, George Leslie McKay, I graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. He was commissioned as a missionary to Taiwan after graduation. My first call was as an associate pastor at a Taiwanese-American Presbyterian church in New Jersey—my great-great-grandfather’s spiritual descendants in exile.

I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the country of my heart. My family left Taiwan when I was six. My parents escaped from a country under martial law into a country in the midst of a Dirty War. No one in my family spoke Spanish nor knew much about Argentina. But we learned quickly. I grew up in the streets of Buenos Aires in an age that no longer exists. Being a Porteño shaped me to the core. I eat asado, I drink mate, and I’m a Bostero.

I moved to Boston as a teenager and attended the bilingual Spanish/English bilingual program in Brighton High School, a Boston Public School. There, I was in ESL classes and befriended fellow immigrants from Latin America and Vietnam. I graduated from Boston University, attended seminary in New Jersey and pastored a Taiwanese American church there.

My wife and I moved to Virginia after our wedding so I could enroll in a Ph.D. program in sociology at the University of Virginia. I pastored a rural Presbyterian church founded in 1747 while in graduate school. It is the oldest church of continuous use in the state of Virginia. My years at Providence Presbyterian Church were some of the most joyful and meaningful years of ministry. I received my Ph.D. in 2010 and remained at the University of Virginia as a Research Scholar where my scholarship focused on race, religion, and immigration.

In 2019, I moved to New York City.

You can read my formal short and long bios here.