Caucus_inlineANKENY, Iowa—Each presidential election year, the state of Iowa becomes the epicenter of American politics. While other states quizzically wonder, “What is a caucus?” Iowans celebrate their politics at the grassroots level by caucusing.

Ankeny Baptist Church served as the caucus site for Precinct 13 for the City of Ankeny, Iowa, on caucus night, Feb. 1. This continues the church’s practice of opening its facilities for local, state, and national elections. Precinct secretary Erin Strawn had prepared for 250 voters in the Republican caucus. Lines of people packed the church entry and quickly filled the 475-seat auditorium of Ankeny Baptist Church. Soon the choir loft was filled and extra chairs found, with caucus beginning late for the standing room–only crowd. Additional caucus ballots and party registration forms were hastily printed for the overflow.

The crowd swelled to over 700 participants and observers, and 569 official votes were counted. Des Moines television station KCCI and CNN correspondent Brian Todd broadcast live from the caucus site. The “Mayor of Ankeny” Marco Rubio (so called due to his repeated visits to suburban cities such as Ankeny) won Precinct 13, receiving 190 votes.

Republican party officials, media personnel, and caucus participants all expressed profound appreciation to the church, pastored by David Strope, for its hospitality, particularly in light of attendance that tripled party expectations.

The church’s hosting of the Republican presidential caucus continues its efforts to connect strategically with its community—efforts that include opening its facility for blood drives, music recitals, and elections, which provide numerous opportunities for gospel witness.