Maria Ling and her husband, LIM Swee Hong, are missionaries from Singapore. They have three children, David (28) who lives in Singapore, Evan (19.5) presently serving mandatory military service in Singapore but who hopes to be back here by August, 2018 and Zoe (15) who is in Grade 9 at BSS. Swee Hong serves as Director, Master of Sacred Music Program and Deer Park Associate Professor of Sacred Music at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
Maria received a Bachelor of Theology in 1986 from Trinity Theological College, Singapore, the M.T.S. from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX in 1995 and the M.Div. from Drew Theological School, Drew University, Madison, NJ in 2008. She is presently working on a M.A. in Ministry and Spirituality at Regis College and is taking courses at Trinity College.
In her first full-time lay ministry position at Wesley Methodist Church, Singapore, Maria worked with youth and young adults, in pre-marital preparation, marriage enrichment, the Cradle Roll, with families, with foreign domestic workers and in pastoral care across the age groups. She did pastoral visitation at home and at hospital, conducted wakes and taught and preached as well.
As a Christian Ministry Staff of the Methodist Church in Singapore, Maria was attached to three Methodist schools where she counselled students and supported teachers, organized chapel services, guided the Christian Fellowship student committee, spoke at meetings and at chapel, too.
Out of the eight years Maria lived in New Jersey, she was pastor of Quakertown United Methodist Church for 7 years. At a small, rural church, Maria began her time there just before 9/11 occurred in nearby New York City. She pastored the aging congregation and while she did baptisms and weddings, she conducted many more funerals over the 7 years than she did baptisms and weddings. The hospital and the nursing homes were locations where one might bump into her. She planned the weekly worship services and preached almost every Sunday over the 7 years. She also collaborated with other UMC pastors in the Hunterdon Cooperative Parish, a group of 7 rural churches in Hunterdon County, NJ.
Here in Toronto, she has also preached at two United Church of Canada churches and at Toronto Formosa Presbyterian Church over the last few years. She was also coordinator of the group “Exploring Faith Through Eyes of Culturally Diverse People.”
Maria enjoys learning new things especially about people she meets and listening to their unique faith stories. She thinks one way to get to know people better is to eat together and one way to grow in Christian fellowship is to pray together and to bear one another’s burdens.
After over 30 years of Christian ministry, Maria thinks that if Jesus calls us His friends, then we can aspire to be the kind of friend to others that Henri Nouwen wrote about, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not healing, not curing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
This world needs us to be friends who love and care in Jesus’ name.
Maria looks forward to working with the people of Grace Church on-the-Hill as a Lay Pastoral Assistant.