Soul Sleepers Church or Maasdam’s First Christian Church built in 1860, by Dutch pioneers 824 Franklin Street Built from soft Pella brick

Christian Church (aka Soul Sleepers Church)

This little church was built as the Christian Church and is situated at its original location. When Dominie
Scholte and the Hollanders arrived here in August 1847, one of the first things Scholte did was to survey
and lay out the center nine blocks of Pella, in part to allow construction of a primitive wooden building
for use as a church and school. That original building was located on this same lot, directly northeast of
this structure. The original building was replaced with this one around 1860.
The current building has two parts: the original southern part, which is Pella’s oldest remaining church
building, and its northern wing added in the 1970s. The older part is constructed of brick and rests on its
original stone footings. This is the only remaining church building constructed by the first generation of
Pella’s Dutch immigrants. Augustus Koch's drawing, "Bird's Eye View of Pella, Marion County, Iowa,
1869" depicts this building and identifies it as the “Soul Sleepers” church.
The devout Dutch immigrants that established Pella quickly established de Christelikje Kerk (the
Christian Church). By design, the church had no pastor and was not affiliated with any denomination.
The entire (male) congregation served as its consistory. They elected elders and deacons to assist the
congregation, including elders that preached. Indeed, Dominie Hendrik P. Scholte, served as its primary
preaching elder.
By 1855, the church had essentially separated into three distinct congregations. One became the First
Reformed Church of Pella and worshiped two blocks south of here; one became Scholte’s Christian
Church that worshiped in a church building one block southwest of here; and the small number of
remaining members continued to worship at this site under Elder Jacob Maasdam, a charismatic cooper
by trade. It was this third group that constructed this replacement building.
From this beginning the congregation later evolved into the Soul Sleepers. The Soul Sleepers believe that
after death the soul sleeps until the resurrection, which occurs when Christ returns. By 1884, the
building served as the “City YMCA”. Later, it functioned as a chapel where Sunday School classes were
taught by the First Reformed Church. Its longest use was as the chapel for The Plymouth Brethren
Church. Historic Pella Trust, a local non-profit preservation organization, purchased the building from
the Brethren in 1995.