Planted over 2 years ago, Midtown Church of the Nazarene will soon deepen its roots at the restored location known as the 8th Street Church. This church is located right by St. Anthony’s Hospital at 701 NW 8th St. The congregation’s long awaited home will open Easter Sunday. A special service filled with song and prayer will be held at 6:30 am, there is a worship service at 9:00 am for all ages, and there is also a Worship & The Neighborhood service at 11:00 am for kids 0-5.
Once a foreigner to the Midtown culture, Michaele LaVigne is now a Mesta Park resident and the co-founding pastor of the Midtown Church. She said, “It started out as my normal Saturday routine (before kids). I went to a yoga studio on Hudson and 7th, concluding with an Americano from Elemental Coffee. I feel like God was making a way for me to be a missionary in Midtown before I even knew why.”
Growing up as the daughter of traveling evangelists, Michaele’s childhood, as well as her view of the church, looked a little different than most others’ experiences. By the time Michaele started middle school, their traveling days came to an end as the family began a church plant.
“My dad’s desire as an evangelist was to call the church to action. He saw the necessity of the church inviting people into a space where they could be transformed by Jesus, instead of being entrenched in the church world of carpet colors and who’s elected to the board. ”
Michaele attended Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, which started out as a pursuit of a communications degree, nowhere near theology. “I knew I’d work in a church, but I had always had this idea that I would work somewhere else on top of pouring myself into ministry.” Her senior year, she interned at a newly founded church where she was thrown into pastoral roles of leadership, speaking, and organization. Michaele reminisced, “It finally made sense. ‘THIS IS IT,’ I thought to myself. Pastoral ministry had been the it the entire time.”
While in seminary and in the newlywed stages of marriage, Michaele explained she was having a really difficult time relating to God through processing her own self-awareness and self-discovery. “Brent and I would sit up in bed at night, reading, typing away on our laptops, leaning over and talking to one another intermittently. I would cry or we would ask each other questions. The intimacy of purely just doing life together.” Jesus spoke to her through this illustration by saying, “This is precisely how I want you to relate to me; this is just a glimmer.”
Right before her receiving her calling to Midtown, she lead a women’s retreat for Bethany First Church of the Nazarene centered around a study called “Beloved,” experiencing the love of God not only as her heavenly father, but as a motherly figure as well. Michaele admitted that their journey to parenthood has been a rocky road, but through this journey she has learned about God’s relentless pursuit of her as His child.
“The desire to love me, know me, and to desire me into existence before I even existed.
If I yearned to be a mom and partner with God in this creation of human life, how much more does God yearn for us? And if I was filled to the brim with every raw emotion of love and desire for this newborn baby, how much more does God feel that for me?”
When she was pregnant with her son, Austin, she began to study the work of St. Ignatius, practicing the virtue of daily retreat, over 9 months. At the end of the study, Michaele wrote a poem called “Walking with Jesus.” Michaele explained the poem, saying:
“Learning to walk with Jesus is a journey from the head to my heart.” Michaele wrote the poem right before she knew God was calling her to Midtown. The last line reads: “Walking with Jesus is a journey with a friend who knows the way.”
In September 2014, Michaele was a part of a staff retreat with BFC. At the conclusion of the retreat, the speaker invited the participants to ask God what name he called them by.
“In my mind’s eye, I heard Jesus beckoning me to walk beside him–just as he had through my poem– and I heard him call me ‘sis’ [a word of adoration used by her three younger brothers to address her]. He invites me to journey beside him as he leads the way into the unknown of life, of motherhood, and of learning how to be a pastor to the people of Midtown. He calls me ‘sis.’”