A Brief History of Shiloh

In the late 1960s, the Lord directed John Robert Stevens to establish a place where a school of prophets could gather to worship and seek the Lord together, and where young ministries would be trained. Around that same time, Harvey Bender, an Amish farmer who had heard Stevens’ messages on radio broadcasts, had a vision in which he saw a portion of his Iowa land being used for people seeking a walk with the Lord. He deeded land to The Living Word in 1971 with the intent that it would house the church and training center of John’s vision.history-diningHall

This land, set on a beautiful hilltop overlooking rural Kalona, Iowa, soon became a home to what the Living Word churches originally called “The Iowa Camp.” It was later named Shiloh, in reference to the Shiloh of the Old Testament where the school of the prophets was centered, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and where God’s glory rested. It was John Robert Stevens’ deep hope that in the midst of a famine for hearing the Word of God, many would hear the voice of the Lord at Shiloh (Amos 8:11; I Samuel 3:1,21).

history_3The story of the building of Shiloh is a story of faith. In the early 1970s, numerous volunteers with a vision to build the facility came from throughout the Living Word Fellowship churches. Construction of the first building was completed in the summer of 1974. This two-story building served as a dormitory and dining hall for many of the young workers. Construction on the expansive main lodge and sanctuary building began shortly thereafter—a project which continued year-round for two years, supported by the prayers, contributions, and countless hours of volunteer help from throughout the fellowship. These were financially difficult times and offerings were sometimes taken to pay for bills that were already in hand. But through it all, the Lord opened miraculous doors. By the summer of 1976, the first organized camp services were held at Shiloh.

In the late 1980s, young adults from throughout the fellowship began spending a portion of their summer vacation at Shiloh. This led to the first organized Young Adult School of Prophets (YASP) camp in 1990, which ran concurrently with the fellowship-wide School of Prophets summer camp. The YASP program has continued every summer since.

In 1987, Gary and Marilyn Hargrave worked with ministries from Shiloh and throughout The Living Word Fellowship to develop a master plan for Shiloh’s property. The campus covers over two hundred acres and includes a main lodge building, a dining hall, an outdoor amphitheater, recreational lakes, playing fields, walking trails, a cemetery, and a maintenance building. The 90,000-square-foot lodge building, which was remodeled in 1997, houses the sanctuary, a library, a café, hospitality rooms, dormitory-style rooms, resident apartments, and administrative offices for Shiloh, The Living Word Fellowship, and the Shiloh University.

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Adjoining Shiloh’s property is Marilyn Farms Company, a six hundred-acre farm owned by several of the Living Word Fellowship churches. Marilyn Farms Company carries out the Joseph Ministry commission which is to restore the land and minister to the health of God’s people.

Shiloh houses a passionate and growing local church. It is also a place where members and ministers from throughout The Living Word Fellowship assemble for conferences, retreats, ministry training, and times devoted to prayer and seeking the Lord. As part of our annual fellowship-wide School of Prophets and summer camp, an annual amphitheater show is performed around the Fourth of July for camp attendees as well as thousands who live in the surrounding communities.

Shiloh continues to grow as an expression of faith and hunger before God and fulfill its mission to be a place of worship and prayer. Throughout its thirty-year history, Shiloh’s roots have remained inseparable from John Robert Stevens’ drive to see God’s Word proclaimed by a school of prophets under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.