Pastor Michaele R.J. Wood

From The Pastor:

Pastor Michaele Wood

On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes on our forehead to remind us of our mortality. We remember that we are created from the dust of the earth and that one day we will return to dust. And so, we begin the time we have come to call Lent.

Lent is a season of preparation and repentance beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday. During Lent, the paraments in the church are changed to purple. The color purple is significant for two reasons in particular. First, it indicates a period of preparation, which is why we use it for both Lent, preceding Easter and Advent, and preceding Christmas.Secondly, purple is often related to persons of royal descent and, specifically, the welcoming of a King. For us that would be the two welcomes of Christ, our King: One to celebrate the birth, and the other to celebrate the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

The early church felt that the celebration of Easter was of such importance that a time of special preparation was needed. In the early centuries, the season before Easter was also the usual period of intense training for  new Christians. During this period, the catechumens (those preparing for baptism and learning what it meant to be Christians) went through the final stages of preparation for baptism, which usually occurred at dawn on Easter Sunday.

From the beginnings of Christianity, many Christians observed several days of fasting as part of that preparation. Early Christians considered it inappropriate to fast on the day of the resurrection [Easter], so Sundays were not counted in the 40 days. Thus, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.

Over the next few centuries, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–2), 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten season. As the practice of infant baptism increased, the emphasis on Lent as a training period decreased. We, as a reformed church, do not adhere to a season of Lent as strictly as some others. We observe the Lenten time, but we do not specifically devote it to churchwide, mandated fasting or dedicated educational goals. Instead, most commonly, people focus on giving up some other vice or habit that might be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. Others of us may look to performing a good work or committing to a positive practice during this time. For us, Lent is a time to reflect on our own lives, or own habits and practices that weigh us down and prevent us from being the people God desires we be.

Lent is a time to reflect and see what we can change about our lives for the better. It can be used as a time to understand our own weaknesses and shortcomings, as painful as that can be. It is a time when we recall that we are mortal, we may be insignificant in the eyes of the world, but we are significant to God who cares about us and loves us unconditionally.

And what does God require of us? “He has told you, O Mortal, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]


Pastor Michaele Wood



Rev. Michaele RJ Wood was born the eldest of four children in Harrisburg PA. Her father was a Marine and Korean Veteran and her mother was a caterer. Michaele says, “Dad maintained order and discipline and mom added the spice.” She attended Catholic school through her junior year before graduating from a public school closer to home. It was during a school assembly about teen suicides that the message “God is love” became real and the Bible became a favorite read.

The years following high school were a hodgepodge of military service as an EMT / Practical Nurse and a liaison to the Military Police Units working narcotics, often accompanying them on the execution of search warrants and arrests. She met and married her husband during that tour and one year later put military service behind to be a mom to a new daughter. The following year she gave birth to twins.

In 1990, she was ordained as a minister in Kingdom Fellowship Ministries, a Charismatic fellowship, and assigned to Fountain Gate Ministries, an inner-city Harrisburg Church. There she served for 15 years as an elder, ordained minister associate and part-time instructor in Biblical & Church History for the ETS School of Ministry. She also held the position of Chief Financial Officer for a Harrisburg non-profit organization, while maintaining employment as a medical claims adjuster and raising a family.

The church grew quickly but the authoritarian form of government did not support the growth which led to problems of discipline and doctrine within the fellowship. This led her to a time of discernment. Seeking the help of a more experienced female pastor, who just happened to be Presbyterian, she was introduced to the Book of Order and Reformed Theology. Michaele states, “I had found the missing piece of my faith journey but the church I served was not ready

to change its style of government.”  In 2005, she became a member of Capital Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg. She was soon asked to serve on session and was ordained as an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Michaele completed the Dubuque CRE training in January 2006 and was then accepted to Lancaster Theological Seminary receiving her Master of Divinity in 2009.  In 2010, she was ordained by Carlisle Presbytery as  Minister of Word & Sacrament. Subsequently, she was  accepted as a member of the initial class of the “For Such A Time As This Program” leading to her installation as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pontotoc, Mississippi,  where she served until December 2017. 

She now comes to Gainesville as the called pastor of Kanapaha Presbyterian Church and will be installed as the way is made clear.

Pastor Michaele holds an Associate in Human Services from Harrisburg Area Community College; a Bachelor of Christian Ministry from Chesapeake Bible College; a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary; a diploma from the CRE program at Dubuque Seminary, and Certificates of Completion in Spiritual Direction; Clergy Tax Management & Law (Chitwood); and Stewardship (Kirby-Smith).

She is the widowed mother to three adult children, grandmother to (10) ten grandchildren, great-grandmother to two boys, ages 2 years and an infant of 3 months, with another due in October. Saying of her journey thus far, “Life has not always been easy, but then, God didn’t say it would be. God did promise to give us strength to continue the journey even when it seems impossible, even when we are afraid, even when we aren’t sure where God is leading us.  And so, I look forward to our journey together.”


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