Chinese Hospitality Center finds a home


How important is a building? The Hospitality Center for Chinese, located near the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, recently decided that their home of 14 years at the corner of Cleveland and Doswell was worth sacrificing for.

During that time, HCC rented space from Lutheran Campus Ministry. When that organization moved to the U of M’s Minneapolis campus, the building went up for sale.

Luanne Wyssmann, HCC’s executive director, said, “When the building went on the market, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Are we tied to a building?’ It’s important to have a regular place for classes and fellowship. We risked losing a sense of family and home if we became only a phone number. The Chinese feel ownership of this building already even though we’ve used only a small portion of it before. They were very concerned about the possibility of losing the building.”

HCC serves the U of M’s large Chinese population. To purchase the building where they had been renting space, they teamed with China Service Ventures, a five-year-old group that works to foster relationships between Christian communities and individuals in North America and those in China.

Charlotte Gronseth, from Falcon Heights, is a CSV founding member, along with her brother, Paul Martinson, formerly of St. Anthony Park. Both their parents and grandparents were missionaries in China.

CSV’s Village Program, which includes health, education and English language instruction, is based in central China’s Henan Province, a poor rural area subject to drought and flooding.

Most of the organization’s board members live in the Twin Cities, so board meetings have been held in a private St. Paul home, long outgrown, and all storage was also in that home. Besides needing new meeting and storage space, CSV recently added three part-time staff members, so office space was also a priority.

“Our mission dovetails with that of the Hospitality Center for Chinese,” said Gronseth. “Many Chinese are amazed that the province in which we work is Henan, since it’s considered a backward area. We’ve considered hosting a Henan Night at the new building to make connections with students and scholars who might have roots or interest in Henan.”

HCC’s Wyssmann said that as co-owners of the building they long called home, they want to increase their ministry both to Chinese and Americans.

“We hope to network with Twin Cities businesses, because we have access to a large group of bilingual, talented Chinese who would be available for employment or mentoring. We also hope to expand our English language class for Chinese family members.”

Among the services HCC provides is coordinating field trips for parents and children, collecting furniture for new arrivals, placing new students with host families and sponsoring a Tuesday evening sport night.

A new name for the building is still under discussion. An opening reception is planned for October 15.

Landscaping will begin in mid-September, an Eagle Scout project of Andrew Albing and Scout Troup 297, which includes members from Lauderdale and Falcon Heights. They would welcome helpers for the project. Call Albing at 633-3957 to volunteer.