Pastor Tom LoVan is a refugee from the communist government of Laos. His parents were employees of the U.S. government embassy in Laos. Even more dangerous was the fact that they were Christians. When the communists took over the country, the family fled to a refugee camp in Cambodia. After much paperwork and many requests, they were granted asylum in one of the three countries. By luck of the draw, Tom and family were chosen to go to America. He was 17 years old.
Tom, his mother, father, and brother came to Marcus, Iowa, sponsored by the Methodist church. Tom finished high school there, attended Morningside College, and became a social worker in Storm Lake, Iowa. His ability and concern for others soon qualified him to receive a grant to attend the Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was ordained in the Lutheran Church.
Tom served in various capacities with Lutheran Social Service of Iowa and also as pastor of the Southeast Asian Christian Ministry at Storm Lake. He was called through the ELCA by Morningside Lutheran Church and Salem Lutheran Church in Dakota City, Nebraska to serve the Lao congregation in those two churches. He was installed as associate pastor at Morningside Lutheran Church on October 19, 1997.
On Sunday, May 31, 1998, Morningside College Hindman-Hobbs swimming pool became a Mass Baptismal site as 167 people were given the sacrament of baptism, celebrating the initiation into the Christian community. Those baptized were part of the Asian outreach program at MLC and Salem Lutheran Church. They represented the countries of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, and China. The ELCA recognized the Multicultural Ministry at Morningside as one of the most successful Multicultural ministries.
In 2003, Samuel Chim, joined MLC as an intern, which was part of his seminary training. Samuel, Cambodian by birth, assisted with worship and gave the Cambodians support by translating services to their language.
Many changes occurred for the Multicultural congregation in 2006 with the transfer from the ELCA synod to the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) Association. The Iowa and Nebraska ELCA refused to support the Multicultural Ministry if Pastor Tom affiliated with MLC. After much deliberation, MLC offered to support this ministry and Pastor Tom resigned from the ELCA and rostered with LCMC. Shortly after that, the Multicultural congregation began having their Sunday worship services in the gym at Morningside Lutheran Church on a permanent basis.
In 2020, Multicultural wording was changed to Intercultural to be most inclusive to all peoples that participate in the activities here at Morningside Lutheran.
Today, Intercultural services continue to be led by Pastor Tom LoVan and are conducted in multiple languages, including Laos, Spanish, and English to accommodate the different cultures in the congregation. The services are each Sunday at 2:00PM in the Sanctuary.