Tony Tian-Ren Lin

Sociologist

Clergy

Writer

Program Director for the Leadership Development initiative at Trinity Church Wall Street and Research Professor at New York Theological Seminary 

About Tony

I am a descendant of a Scott-Canadian Presbyterian minister born in 1844. Since I am also an ordained Presbyterian minister, and there’s been a Presbyterian clergy every generation before me. This might give my family the record for the longest continuous ordained clergy in a family. Most certainly for a family from Taiwan. Like my great-great-grandfather, I also graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary 129 years after he did. He was commissioned as a missionary to Taiwan after graduation. I took a call to a Taiwanese-American church in New Jersey. And so an actual descendant of George McKay went on to serve this spiritual descendants in exile.

I grew up in Argentina, the country of my heart. My family moved to Buenos Aires when I was six because of political instability in Taiwan. 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. 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 started to learn English in ESL classes at a bilingual high schools Boston Public School system. I graduated from Boston University, moved to New Jersey for seminary where I also pastored Taiwanese American churches. In New Jersey I met my wife.

We moved to Virginia after our wedding to enroll in a Ph.D. program in sociology. I also 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 I stayed at the University of Virginia as a Research Scholar focusing on race, religion, and immigration.

In 2019, I moved to New York City.

You can read my formal short and long bios here.