New bilingual church in Sioux Center

Briana Gardner — Staff Writer

Stepping into the Fruited Plain at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, slipping into a booth with a cup of coffee in hand, and hearing the room abuzz with musicians practicing, children playing, and conversation aplenty, attendees feel more like they are about to enjoy a coffee date with friends, rather than a Sunday morning church service.

Mary Magdalene, the newest church in Sioux Center, Iowa is only six weeks old.

The Reformed church is pastored by Martha Draayer, the Director of Intercultural Development at Northwestern College. The time of day and location are not the only unique things about Mary Magdalene church. The service is bilingual, which Draayer modeled off Revelation 7:9: “there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

“Part of that vision that we see [in Revelation 7:9] is being able to do that here on earth, worshipping in different styles and different languages, and cultures,” Draayer said. “So we’re bringing this Reformed culture and putting a little of the Latino flavor into it.”

Draayer leads most of the service, both in English and Spanish. It is often a struggle for her to remember to translate.

“Sometimes I forget which language I am speaking in,” Draayer said.

The service also strives to be community-centric. The church encourages participation in worship, volunteering, and prayer. During the time of prayer, leaders encourage attendees to shout out prayer requests, similar to in a Bible study or small group.

Currently, Mary Magdalene Reformed church hosts about 40 people each Sunday. This does not deter Draayer, who believes impact on personal faith reveals the most about a church’s growth. Still, the church encourages each of its members to invite their friends and neighbors to attend. One of the ways the church welcomes new faces is with a small meal of bread and coffee at 12:30 p.m., before the service.

This upcoming Sunday, members will partake in a larger, potluck meal together. Draayer, along with other members of the leadership team, including Celina Hernandez, are seeking an environment of inclusivity.

“Even if you don’t believe in the Lord yet, or this is something you’re not sure of or if you’re wrestling with faith or even if you’ve been out of church for a long time, this is a place where you can feel loved and blessed and in community,” Hernandez said.

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