Our History

History of Shiloh University

Shiloh University was founded by Gary and Marilyn Hargrave in 2006. Chancellor Gary Hargrave and President Christopher Reeves assembled and led a team of ministers, educators, and administrators to establish a curriculum and organization that would attain to the highest standards of Spirit-filled Christian education. This momentous event was the culmination of decades of seeking the Lord to see the Shiloh church in Kalona, Iowa, become the university of biblical studies that Shiloh’s founder, John Robert Stevens, had envisioned. The University was named after the biblical story of Shiloh.

Shiloh University began instruction in January 2007 and received its initial accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Commission in January 2012. Shiloh University now offers undergraduate degree and certificate programs in biblical, pastoral, and liberal studies. In addition, it offers master’s and doctoral degree and certificate programs designed to equip the student for service and leadership in a church, teaching, or evangelistic ministry.

Biblical Story of Shiloh

The basis for the name and mission of Shiloh University is the biblical story of Shiloh—a story which illustrates three recurring themes seen throughout the Scriptures.

After possessing the land of Canaan under Joshua, the nation Israel established Shiloh as its spiritual and administrative center. At Shiloh, Joshua distributed the land to each tribe of Israel and the Levites were apportioned their cities. Shiloh became the first location of the Tabernacle of the Lord. Here resided the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of the Lord in the midst of His people.

The prophet Samuel ministered before the Lord at Shiloh. I Samuel 3:21 (NASB) says, “And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself … by the word of the LORD.” The Lord made Himself known to Israel through the Torah and the Word of the Lord spoken by His prophets, and that Word guided them as a nation.

Samuel established both schools of prophets and prophetic communities that were committed to serve and worship the Lord. Under the fathering ministry of Samuel at Shiloh, the schools of prophets studied, practiced, and spoke the Word of the Lord. They were a tremendous force in controlling both the spiritual atmosphere and natural events of Israel.

Shiloh is not only an example of the power and effectiveness of God’s people when committed to follow Him, but it also serves as a warning to all who forsake His ways. Later in the Old Testament story, we read that Israel forsook the ways of the Lord which they had learned through the Torah and His prophets; God then responded by withdrawing His presence from their midst. When they lost the blessing and favor of the Lord’s presence, Shiloh became a desolate place.

In restoration, Shiloh is also a lesson of hope. The prophets spoke of a day when God’s presence would once again dwell with His people. Genesis 49:10-11 prophetically declares a messianic appearing at Shiloh—restoring obedience to His people and establishing leadership to all nations.

God is speaking today just as He has in every generation. He is speaking through the Scriptures and through His servants. Today God is raising up a generation to carry His Word and His presence to the ends of the earth. Like the school of prophets of old, Shiloh University is committed to teaching and equipping this and future generations to serve the Lord as did Samuel and the prophets in the days of God’s glory in Shiloh.