Visiting Pella

There is much to know about the history of Pella. We seek to highlight key places and events in the history of Pella that are significant to its Christian heritage; both of the town and its founders. Please read up on the following items and visit these locations as you walk around town, to better appreciate its religious heritage.

Click on blue markers or streets to find out more.
Zoom out to see other locations beyond downtown Pella.


The name of the city and its slogan, "the City of Refuge", points back to its Christian roots. Pella is a Greek word that means 'stone', but it does not refer to the city in that region. It instead refers to the city of Pella near Israel and Jordan, it was one of the 10 cities of the Roman decapolis. The Christians of that time fled from Jerusalem as instructed by Jesus when it came under attack by Rome in Luke 21:20-24. Learn More...

Our Streets

Many of the streets in early Pella were named for key Christian principles. It demonstrates the strong bond that the founders had to their religion. Some of these street names remain today including: Peace Street, Independence Street, Union Street, and Liberty Street. The following street names were changed in the 1870s sometime after Scholte's death. (click on streets in blue on the map above to see original names):

  • Main St.: was Reformation Ave.
  • Broadway St.: was Gratitude Ave.
  • West 1st St.: was Experience Ave.
  • West 2nd St.: was Patience Ave.
  • West 3rd St.: was Confidence Ave.
  • West 4th St.: was Expectation Ave.
  • West 5th St.: was Accomplishment Ave.
  • East 1st St.: was Perseverance Ave.
  • East 2nd St.: was Inquiring Ave.

Pella was established on 18 acres of the highest land so that the lights from the houses would be visible from a distance. It was a physical reminder of Christ's words to his disciples in Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."


If you want to learn more about why the founders where fleeing you can look to the Reformation and its roots in Holland. A few centuries after the Reformation the struggling church was taken under the authority of the state. The King removed key doctrines and later introduced new hymnals. One minister, Anthony Brummelkamp, wrote, “I had been aware for some time already that the hymnbook which was introduced into the church in 1807 is both in spirit and tendency in conflict with the Reformed doctrine." The doctrines are written in the Canons of Dort, drafted in 1618-1619 in Southern Holland in the city of Dordrecht. You can find this on the map inside the windmill and Dutch Fix. Learn More...


The unique architecture of the Klokkenspel, with its brick arches, Dutch front, and marionets was constructed in 1984. The front side, facing the street, shows 4 different scenes of Pella's first residents. One scene shows Dominie Hendrik Peter Scholte baptizing an infant, symbolizing the new life in Pella. It also points back to the conflicts and persecution under the state church in Holland. Their understanding of scripture was that "Believing parents show that they believe God’s promise to save those who believe the Gospel, and promise to train their child to believe the true gospel. That is why the parents would not have their child baptized in a church that did not teach the true gospel." The state church leaders often found fault with these ministers over issues of baptism and refusing to worship from official state hymnals the Seceeders felt were unbiblical, but the foundational conflict was over doctrines and confessions.

Post Office

Inside the Pella Post Office you will find a mural painted by Byron Bennet Boyd depicting persecution, emmigration from Holland, and settlement in America. The founders were fined, imprisoned, and shackled often because they resisted the influence of the Enlightenment in the state-sponsored church. They found religious freedom and refuge after settling in and establishing Pella. A Baptist minister they met in St. Louis led them here where they purchased 18,000 acres. They put their faith in God for their protection. Learn More...

The First Christian Church

A half-block west of the square on Franklin Street is the site of the first church in Pella. The original building was erected in 1849, 2 years after they settled here. "In November of that year, [Dominie H.P. Scholte] grants and conveys a part of this land to the Christian Church of Pella to quietly enjoy." In 1888, the property was sold to the First Reformed Church of Pella. It was also used by a group called "Soul Sleepers". Dominie Scholte preached in this church until 1855. Today it is the site of Pella Books and is listed on the Historic Registry. It remains the only surviving church building constructed in Pella by the first generation of its emmigrants from the Netherlands. Learn More...

Scholte's Church

In 1855, Scholte built another church, it had the latin phrase, "In Deo Spes Nostra et Refugium" inscribed on it meaning "In God is our hope and refuge". Dominie (Pastor) Scholte preached here until his death in 1868. While not the original location, a replica is built on the East side of the Pella Historical Village 2 blocks East of the town square on Franklin.

Church Pulpit

Inside, you will find a sanctuary with a noticably raised pulpit where the pastor went up several steps to proclaim the Word of God. This pulpit was moved from Scholte's church in Utrecht. A raised pulpit like this was common in that era and helped to amplify the voice of the preacher in a time that did not have the modern sound equipment we have today. It often represented the centrality of the Bible as the word of God, rather than the authority and inspiration of the preacher. This idea of the Word of God as the ultimate source of all our knowledge is known as Sola Scriptura and was a critical doctrine of the Reformation and of these Christians who fled persecution of the state-run church in Holland.

Pella Schools

Schools were very important to these immigrants and before they arrived, plans were made including provision for a teacher's home and schoolhouse be built immediately. Among the Reformed denominations, a Christian education has been very important. Despite not having private Christian Schools, a Christian foundation was important and engrained in the schools established in the early years. Duties of Teachers included "calling roll and reading scriptures without note or comment." While the first schools were not expressly Christian in name, they represented the fundamental Christian understanding of education. Today there are established both Pella Christian High School which was established in 1947 and Pella Christian Grade School which organized in 1912. You can find these by zooming out on the map above.

Central College

Central College was established in 1853 by the Baptists of Iowa after offers were made by several towns including Pella. "With humble pride we affirm that our first object is to be true to the Christian faith, and so to send out into every line of honorable endeavor men and women who have been touched by the Christ ideal." (pg 256, Souvenir History of Pella, Iowa.). Central College has had a significant impact on the town of Pella. Hendrik Scholte was among those appointed to the executive committee and he poured himself into this endeavor, donating the land and much of the building materials needed to begin. Many others volunteered to work and raised funds. Later, in 1916, the Baptists struggled to keep both Central College and Des Moines College afloat. It was at that time the Reformed Church of America (RCA) purchase Central College, which continues to this day. Learn More...

What about you?

Through these events and locations in Pella you should see the strong dedication of the these settlers from Holland. They were led by a protestant minister, Dominie Hendrik Peter Scholte, and most had a strong sense and dedication to the Bible and their faith. This was often stronger than the love of their former country. This dedication shaped the names of places throughout the city and in all that they did. You may also notice God's hand in bringing together the people and events to form and develop this town and who we are.

There was a strong dedication to the Christian faith and the preaching of the gospel. They believed that committment to this faith and the principles found in scripture helped guide all aspects of life. In a letter written back to those who remained in Holland, "Our settlement in the West they regard as a beneficient act of Providence to spread the saving knowledge of the gospel among people who belong to no religious sect at all, since they do not believe and they seldom if ever hear the preaching of the gospel."

Have you seen this Providence of God working in your life? How has He shaped your life and who you are?

Do you know the good news of the gospel? It is not just a set of good morals that Christian's follow. It is summarized simply by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures". We ask you to consider your eternal destiny and explore what God has done to reconcile us to him through the gospel.

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