Out of Zion

Today many people ask who was John Alexander Dowie? But if you lived just over a hundred years ago you would have clearly known who Dowie was and either loved him or hated him. He was an incredible voice for the Gospel and healing ministry. While many other ministers were preaching divine healing, few had reached the success status that Dowie had achieved. He was massive.

As we will see, many of those who followed Dowie and identified with Pentecostalism, played a key in helping it spread globally. The global network of Dowie also either directly or indirectly played a major role in helping Pentecostalism spread and grow. When Dowie died in 1907 the powerful healing and apostolic anointing he had was not lost, but God raised up so many people of a humble heart that would carry the Gospel with the message of healing to the ends of the earth. What the enemy had sought to do as Dowie spiritually derailed, the Lord turned around and found hungry believers who would listen to His voice and go.

So while many

John Alexander Dowie at the end of the Nineteenth century had become one of the biggest names in ministry and had conquered Chicago. His ministry headquarters was right in a former hotel located on Michigan Ave, right by the lakeshore. He actually had many buildings including his Zion Tabernacle on Michigan Ave, his Zion College, bank, woman’s home along with his former buildings close to where the world fair in 1893 was held. He clearly was a dominant force to be reckoned with in Chicago. Therefore, Dowie was continually in the newspapers and it would be hard to have lived in Chicago and perhaps nationally without knowing about Dowie. Further, his ministry was now global, and he was becoming very well known in many countries including Britain.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Dowie was focusing on a Christian utopia located north of Chicago. The city would be called Zion. The street layout followed the design of the Scottish flag and almost all street names were based on the Bible. The few non- Biblical street names were named after Scotland.

Dowie was preaching a more Pentecostal message which really prepared the people for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit when Charles Parham visited in 1907.  Here are some examples

“I am glad that the Pentecostal Baptism continues to be Tongues of Fire.

May God grant to our dear people all over the world that they shall speak with Tongues of Fire today; Holy Fire; the Fire of Love; of Faith; the Fire that kindles Hope in despairing souls and spirits.

May they speak with the Fire that kindles Divine confidence in doubting, miserable beings; the Fire that burns up hatred, and keeps Faith burning upon the altar of the heart; the Fire of a Holy Love.”1

LOH Vol. XI, 19, Chicago, August 30, 1901

The Gifts of Healing are Permanent

It is expressly declared that the “Gifts and the calling of God are without repentance,’ and the Gifts of Healing are amongst the Nine Gifts of the Spirit to the Church (Romans 11: 29; 1 Corinthians 12: 8-11)

LOH Vol. X, No. 18, Chicago, February 22nd, 1902. Page 814

John Alexander Dowie was given the name, Apostle of Healing and he truly was. Dowie restored to the church an understanding that not alone was Jesus the Healer Who could heal you, but He was the Healer Who wanted to heal you and as a result healing was part of the atonement. Dowie sought to tear down the stronghold that sickness was of the Lord or a tool used by the Lord. Dowie made it clear through arguing line upon line from the Word and through thousands of living witnesses that Jesus came to destroy the works of the enemy and that included sickness.

In the healing ministry of Dowie he would constantly provide information for all who were curious so they could go talk to those healed and discover their testimony. He was not a showman, but a person burdened for souls. While, Dowie is remembered his healing ministry, seeing people come to salvation was first with him.

In his ministry he placed the focus on reaching the lost. From his groups of seventies to his Zion Cottage Meetings, Dowie sought to bring the Gospel to the very door of all and compel all to come. The Zion Cottage Meetings were designed to be a blessing locally to their community. There were districts set up with a regional tabernacle, surrounded by what we would call, “home churches.” At these homes and regional tabernacles people were welcome to come and hear the Gospel. In Chicago in 1901, there were 242 Zion Cottage Meetings that preached the Gospel according to the local community and as such it was preached in English, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Bohemian, Chinese, Japanese and Italian. The Gospel was preached to both blacks and whites. 3

The Christian Catholic Church that Dowie started had a large following and within it many would identify with the Pentecostal message. Dowie had preached a message of the need to “Go!” And they did go. Many of the leaders had personally experienced healing, and so they went preaching the Gospel that Jesus was the same yesterday, today and forever. The message they preached was real to them.

Pentecost Comes to Zion

In 1906 the Azusa Street revival had occurred, and people were taking the Pentecostal message worldwide. But many forget that the Pentecostal message Seymour preached at Azusa was what he learnt from Charles Parham. It was Charles Parham who brought back a revelation of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. The Baptism came with the power and demonstrations seen on the original day of Pentecost and it empowered believers to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. These Pentecostals became pioneers driven by the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel to new areas. So, while for most people life was all about surviving and if you were fortunate enough to have your home and live the dream. But to the Pentecostals like the Primitive church, it was all about laying down your life that the present and if need be future generations might know the Good News, demonstrated in power.

Also in 1906, Dowie had suffered his stroke and his control of the city began to fade. The Leaves of Healing was reduced dramatically both in size and frequency. A power struggle developed and soon Wilbur Glenn Voliva, Dowie’s top man in Australia would have supplanted Dowie. However, Voliva did not carry the anointing or spiritual power that Dowie carried especially during his peak period in the late 1890’s. The people of Zion had endured very difficult years. Zion was in a financial crisis and the people were in severe oppression. Parham had heard the cry of Zion and was invited by a few people who had been a part of his ministry to come and minister in Zion.

In October, 1906 Cahrles F. Parham came and began preaching at the Elijah Hospice before he was kicked out. He then began preaching at houses.

Parham Wins Over Key Leaders

Parham was not welcome by Voliva and his leadership. However, Parham slowly began winning over key leaders and many of the people who were hungry for more of God.

Chicago’s Azusa- The Stone Church

One of the first six elders ordained by Dowie was a man called William Hamner Piper.4 In 1897, Piper became the Elder-in-Charge of the Zion Tabernacle in Oak Park, Illinois. 5 He was later removed and sent to Cincinnati April 1898. On April 26th, 1899 he was appointed General Overseer for the State of Ohio. He was then called back in April 1899 to oversee the South-Side Tabernacle in Englewood, which is in Chicago. 6 Piper continued to gain influence and would become the Overseer-In-Charge of Educational Institutions of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. In January 1903, he was the Elder-in-Charge of the church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 8 By 1904 he was in New England as the leader there. 9

On December 9th, 1906 Piper was disillusioned with Zion and had left Zit and started the Stone Church on the south side of Chicago. The first year proved to be a wilderness time for Piper. He preached a message similar to Dowie’s but absent of anything that appeared Pentecostal. He was against the Baptism and speaking in tongues. However, during this time he was doing a lot of repairs on the church and God was doing a lot of repairs on Piper His church congregation was in decline and Piper understood these was coming from his exclusion of Pentecostalism.

“The months of April and May 1907, will never be forgotten by me. I was made to feel as though God had almost wholly departed from my life. These were days and nights of anguish of soul, conscious of an almost total absence of God, yet not conscious of having committed any sin. I now understand that God in His goodness will at times withdraw from one’s life in order to make him more hungry for God, and also to let him realize what he would be without God.”10

During this time he spent time researching into the “Latter Rain.” He was hungry for revival and spent many nights agonizing in prayer. Finally, he came to the conclusion that he had been prejudiced against the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with Speaking in Tongues and that it was really of God.  He knew that preaching such a message would split his church but knew before the Lord he had to preach it even if it meant he would have to find a secular job to support his family. In June 1907 he invited someone Elder F. A. Graves along with Marie Burgess and Jean Campbell to preach on the message of Pentecost.

1907 was a big year in Zion and Chicago. Dr. Speicher, one of Dowie’s top men had resigned. He had been a medical doctor who decided to go into ministry. He would become convinced of divine healing under Dowie and was ordained by Dowie. He would gain a very high position and when Zion City was opened, he was “Dowie’s assistant… the virtual supervisor of the religious and physical life of the city.” He was seen as second in command. 11 He was strongly opposed to the Pentecostal movement. He however, visited California where he came in contact with many from the Apostolic Faith. He would visit Azusa and while there became convinced “none other than the wonderful power of the Holy Spirit that was working through this people.”11

When Dr. Speicher returned to Zion he started to attend many of the Pentecostal meetings. He would begin to Scripturally defend speaking in tongues. He would speak out in favor of the movement saying, “More wonderful even than the tongues is the way the Holy Spirit falls upon many of the people, even young children who put to shame the best preachers in the church in the way they stand before the people and preach the everlasting Gospel. O the power, the grandeur, the beauty of a child of six or ten years of age breaking forth in scriptural language and pleading with the people to turn to God with all their hearts.”12

Zion had been set up as a Christian utopia where all forms of evil would be outlawed to prevent people sinning. The desire was to create a perfect environment to raise a Christian family. The problem was the children rebelled against what they saw as religious oppression. Put simply you can’t use the law to perfect Christians. Dr. Speicher who had sought with Dowie to do this saw how the Holy Spirit was doing it.

Speicher, Tom Hezmalhalch, John G. Lake, and along with Parham would be attacked through billboard erected by the religious leadership of Zion. But Pentecostalism was growing stronger in Zion. Around June 1907, William Seymour visited Zion. It was clear the flames of Azusa were beginning to speak in Zion. Among those leaders recognized as part of the Apostolic Faith Movement also included Elder Graves and his wife.  The Graves had both experienced incredible healings under the ministry of Dowie.

So when they visited the Stone Church in June of 1907 they carried with them the fire released at Azusa. Piper who had been studying revivals throughout church history saw faith grow in him for revival.14 Most revivals are birthed by people who had studied previous revivals and come to the conclusion that if God did it before, He can do it again. And this caused a holy desperation to consume them so that they agonized in prayer until the revival came forth.

As Piper announced these Pentecostal ministers were coming, most predicted it would cause everyone to leave and the church to shut down. 15 Resistance and persecution grew but Piper made his stand that they were going to see the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. As he continued to stand the people started to see their “own spiritual need.” There is something about obedience which is shown in simple actions and stands. God turned up to support Piper’s stand.

Over the next series of weeks they had powerful “seeker” meetings as the Holy Spirit was poured out. On July 20th, Lydia Markley Piper was one of the first to be baptized. Lydia had seen an incredible healing under the ministry of Dowie. One of her legs was paralyzed for seventeen years but it was restored, and her testimony was shared all over the world.

William Piper struggled for a while seeking but not receiving. However, one night while he was alone and desperately going after the Lord he had a visitation from heaven. He would find himself standing in His presence, naked and totally empty spiritually needing to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 God was working on him. Meanwhile at the Stone church they were seeing many getting saved, baptized with the Holy Spirit and healed.

Piper’s daughter became burdened to see her father receive the Baptism and prayed lying prostrate in agony before the Lord. The Lord spoke to her and promised that soon he would receive it. Then…

“At about this time I had the deepest agony of spirit I have ever experienced. … On Friday evening my whole being seemed to be on fire. Not understanding it at first, I spoke  of how exceedingly hot and oppressive it was in the room… Tongues of fire were seen over me. : However, Piper still did not speak in tongues so he continued to seek and soon found out that he was grieving the Holy Spirit in continuing to seek what was already given.

The Stone Church would become the Azusa of Chicago. It was here that many leaders in the Pentecostal movement would come and preach. In October 1908 he began publishing the “Latter Rain Evangel.”

Piper called the people to move forward…

“speak unto the people of God that they go forward. Not backward; not to the right nor to the left, and if there is a Red Seas of difficulty in front of you, the rod of faith will separate the waters, and you will march forth and cross on dry ground.”17

The purpose of the Baptism was to go and reach the lost…

“The man to whom God has entrusted spiritual gifts and powers must realize that God has given these to him that God may be glorified. Not simply saying, “glory to God” but showing that the glory of God is dwelling in him by reaching out to the saved and unsaved, to heal the sick, to comfort the broken-hearted, and minister to the poor and needy”18

The call was for people not just to mentally ascent to the message but to get it deep on the inside of them so that it caused a real change in them. The felt the Lord was coming soon and so had a sense of urgency to reach the lost. They also saw mighty manifestations in their church. The church sought to separate out the real, the wild and the false fire. They would recall the Cane Ridge Revival and seek to learn from it. 19

Many of the Zion leaders would continue to minister at the Stone church including Bosworth who preached there in December 1908.

In May 1910, the Stone Church held a conference on the “subject of world-wide missions.”20 AT the same time the World Missionary Conference was occurring in Edinburgh, Scotland. The conference at Stone church was a humble affair drawing hundreds. Those who came were confident that the world would feel the impact.

“Those of Dowie’s followers who identified with Parham’s Pentecostal message concurred that in Pentecostalism the real significance of Dowie’s message was preserved and expanded.”21

In 1911 at the age of forty-three, Piper went home to heaven. The Stone church under Piper became associated with the Assemblies of God and helped to expand Pentecostalism in Chicago. He also brought to the Pentecostal movement the importance of “going” and reaching the nations. The Stone church continued to grow after his death and in 1912 saw a glorious revival when Marie Woodworth Etter visited.


  1. Leaves of Healing. Chicago, Illinois. August 30th 1901. Vol. XI, No. 19
  2. Leaves of Healing. Chicago, Illinois. February 22nd, 1902. Vol. X No. 18, page 814
  3. LOH. Vol III, Nu. 12 January 12th 1901, page 374
  4. Gardiner, Gordon, P. Out of Zion Into All the World. Companion Press, Shippenburg, PA. 1990.Page 42
  5. LOH Vol. VI, No. I, Chicago, October 28th, 1899, page 5
  6. Ibid
  7. LOH Vol. XII No. 12 Chicago, January 10th, 1903 page 378
  8. Ibid
  9. LOH Vol. XVI No. 7, Zion City, December 3, 1904, page 209
  10. Piper, William Hamner. “The Long Weary Months of Spiritual Drought; Borken by the Gracious Coming of the Holy Spirit.” The Latter Rain Evangel. October 1908
  11. Gardiner page 37
  12. Gardiner page 38
  13. Gardiner pages 38-39
  14. Gardiner page 42
  15. Piper
  16. Piper
  17. The Latter Rain Evangel, October 1908 page 8
  18. Ibid page 9
  19. Ibid page 20
  20. Curtis, Heather, D. “Pentecostal Missions and the Changing Character of Global Christianity.” Assemblies of God Heritage. Vol 33, 2013
  21. A/G Heritage Fall 1986 “Pentecostal Branch Grows in Dowie’s Zion.”