Picture, in February 1953 some sixty years ago, pastures, gravel roads and woods, followed by the construction of a small mission chapel and parsonage. The site is now the corner of Midvale and Tokay Boulevards. Prior to the completion of the original buildings, worship services were held in mission Pastor and Mrs. Sandrock’s basement on Woodside Terrace. By May 3, 1953, 147 charter baptized members established Midvale Community Lutheran Church, with an emphasis on community. At the time of dedication there were 375 baptized and 166 confirmed (156 were enrolled in Sunday School), along with eight active church organizations. By December 12, 1954, what was a fledgling mission became a self-supporting congregation.
Growth and Change
By 1957, 281 families with 1,065 baptized were part of the congregation, with three worship services, along with 400 children enrolled in three separate Sunday School hours. Because of rapid growth, plans were made for the design and construction of the “new” church building. The cornerstone for the current sanctuary facility occurred just before Christmas – December 21, 1958. At the time, the chapel was retained as the education unit. However, by 1964 there were approximately 600 children enrolled in Sunday School, filling every available space. Once again, activity got underway for demolition of the chapel wing with, in 1966, construction of the current administration and education unit.
An arson fire occurred in October, 1971, causing the congregation to worship first at Holy Name Seminary and then in Fellowship Hall. Worship resumed in the sanctuary on Easter in 1972. To enhance access, remodeling projects occurred in 1994, with the addition of an elevator and gathering space; and, most recently in 2009 resulting in worship again in Fellowship Hall until Easter Sunday 2010.
Worship and Education
Since October 4, 1953, Midvale began to hold two worship services each weekend, and by February 1955 three services began to be offered. Midvale has had and continues to have a strong music program to enhance the worship experience. Talented music staff, members and guests continue to share their gifts through choral, instrumental and seasonal cantatas. Visual arts have also added to the worship experience including sanctuary windows, mosaics, and other arts media. Christ the Door mosaic facing Tokay Boulevard was assembled by Midvale members and the mural was dedicated in September 1968.
Education for children, youth and adults has been integral at Midvale. Sunday School began in the spring of 1953 with an enrollment of 55 children by May. The first Vacation Bible School (VBS) was also held in 1953 at the West Side Club for children ages 4 to 14 years. Both Sunday School and VBS have been held since 1953. The first group of youth confirmed occurred in April 1954.
Youth activities have been many and varied through the years including retreats, mission trips and attendance at the National Youth Gatherings. Midvale’s Adult Education Forum on Sunday mornings kicked off in September 1968, and continues each year. Adult Bible studies have been and are regularly offered.
Organizations and Activities
There have been many opportunities through the years for service projects such as the Vietnamese Resettlement, LW Relief Quilters and The Road Home. Fellowship has ranged from picnics to book groups; from dartball to softball competition; and from couples club to Midvalers among many others.
A deliberate effort to open the church to many outside user groups occurred in the 1960’s, which continues today. User groups have included a wide range of the community from Mary Linsmeier Pre-School, Headstart, Alliance on Mental Illness, Navajo Weavers, Madison Flute Society, MSCR Yoga and Tai Chi, 4-H, Scouts, AA and Alanon among many others.
Midvale has been ably led through the years by the following: Mission and first Pastor Sig G. Sandrock, 1953-1961; Senior Pastors Stanley S. Klyve, 1962-1989; Dennis N. Tollefson, 1989-1999; Bruce D. Loewenhagen, 2001-2013; and Katie Baardseth, 2013-2014. Throughout the years the congregation has also been and is served by Assistant, Associate, Interim and Visitation Pastors. Midvale is currently being served by Co-Pastors, since February 2014, Katie Baarseth and Blake Rohrer and Visitation Pastor Larry Pinnow.
Midvale has an active Archives Committee that maintains historical documents and items for the congregation and provides information and insight into the history of the church. A few recent activities include updating and organizing records of memorial funds, storing recordings of Adult Forum sessions, revamping the art storage system, and providing historical information about the stained glass windows.