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Thanksgiving Celebration at Multicultural Church Plant

Sharing a meal was a big part of the Thanksgiving celebration of Marĩa Magdalena Reformed Church at The Fruited Plain Café.

A Spanish and English church plant meeting in Sioux Center, Iowa, hosted its first Thanksgiving as a church last week—giving thanks with Scripture, prayer, and song as well as sharing a meal. Marĩa Magdalena Reformed Church was started by Jason Leif, a Christian Reformed Church member who has a license to exhort (preach) within Classis Iakota, and by Martha Draayer, a teaching elder at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, in late August. Leif is a member of Covenant CRC in Sioux Center and a professor of theology at Northwestern College, where Draayer is director of intercultural development.

The two were inspired to plant a church like this after Leif and Draayer led a group of students on a trip to Kansas City and attended a bilingual church there. They had connections with the owners of a local café in Sioux Center, The Fruited Plain, which was closed on Sundays and available as a meeting spot. For the past three months the multicultural congregation has been establishing itself with Sunday afternoon worship services and community meals at the beginning of each month.

The Thanksgiving meal, which Lief said was offered to anyone, was an extension of that. About 40 people gathered for the meal in the backroom of The Fruited Plain on Nov. 23. Draayer said that number—between 40 and 50—is typical of the Sunday services as well. The hope is to be community-rooted. “We are not trying to attract people from other churches,” Lief said. “We want to be a place for people who don’t have a church home yet.” And more than that, “the point isn’t even to get people to come to our church,” Lief said. “We are not trying to be a mega church; we want to be a place where multiple cultures are represented. We also want to be a place that takes on issues and needs in our community.”

Draayer said what those might be are still to be determined. “We can say that we will continue to host guest speakers,” such as the RCA’s director of Global Mission JP Sundararajan, who spoke at the church Nov. 13, “and plan to engage in events and activities that empower our immigrant community.” Draayer said, “Part of that work may involve advocacy for immigration reform. We would love to partner with any church or organization that sees a vision for breaking down barriers that divide and uplift(ing) the goodness of God's diversity.”


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