In sharing the history of House of Fellowship of Believers, it is important to first state that it is not a tale of brick and mortar, but rather a chronicling of “living stones”. And, as we review the steps of people chosen of God to establish this particular foothold of His Kingdom, we give glory not to flesh, but to the God Who veils Himself thereby.






Stand therefore
having your loins
girt about with truth

~ Ephesians 6:14




If a single, central Scripture were to be chosen, this would serve well. At the time of this writing we have a congregation numbering approximately two hundred of whom fully 30% travel two or more hours each way, 40% travel over an hour and most of the balance are at least thirty minutes or more from the building in Myakka City.

But it traces back, one person at a time, to a stand for truth regardless of rejection, ridicule, exclusion, gossip and the other forms of hurt that are part and parcel of Christianity’s struggle in the midst of Satan’s Eden. For if no one stands, how can men be saved? They can never accept OR reject truth unless they first hear and see.


Repent, and be baptized all of you in the Name of Jesus

~ Acts 2:38




1964 - Incredibly enough in light of the many signs and wonders that accompanied the ministry, many were not even aware that a prophet was in the land. Certainly, it was not of any importance to John Jacob Stemen. Married two years to his sweetheart, Diana, and living happily in the house they’d built together (she helped without knowing he intended to ask her hand), he was proud father to six-month old Susan and a satisfied member of the Mennonite church. But then, his mother-in-law (also a Mennonite) went to work for Gladys Dauch.

Sis. Edna Golden’s life was eternally changed when she came into contact with the Message God has sent through His prophet, William Branham. But, she walked circumspectly, allowing Jesus Christ to manifest His life through hers until her daughter finally asked why she had been re-baptized. Upon hearing the simple truth of baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ according to Acts 2:38 and in perfect harmony with Matthew 28:19, Diana Stemen felt the key turn in her heart. She was baptized as soon as possible and filled with the Spirit of the living God. And, the battle that has raged since before time began established front lines in the midst of a humble home in Elida, Ohio.

Sis. Diana sought every opportunity to sit under the unveiled Word in spite of continuous opposition from John Stemen, his family and the Mennonite community. At one point her husband forced her to leave their daughter with him and move out for a heart-wrenching period of time. In desperation he sold the home they’d built and moved the family to California, hoping to break his wife free from doctrine so contrary to accepted teaching. Then, William Branham passed from this life. Assuming the “cult” would surely fade out and his wife now come to her senses, he returned to Elida with his family.

In total, ten years passed during which Diana Stemen stood on and for the truth. She endured having precious books of transcribed services thrown into the river, walked through snowstorms to attend meetings and withstood almost continual persecution for her baptism, refusing to wear a false covering; in short - for believing all the Word. At one point, her husband again relocated the growing family (1967-1969), this time to Sarasota, Florida, where he blasted out against William Branham and “his followers” to everyone who would listen.

Meanwhile, a faithful mother huddled with her children at every opportunity, teaching them Bible truths and sharing the Message that had become her lifeline. In 1974, when they were living in Elida again, Sis. Diana’s brother caught the revelation. Prompted by the Holy Spirit and with heart pounding she stood in the kitchen and asked her husband to go with her to Sam Golden’s baptism. John Stemen stormed through the rooms of the house in a circle shouting angrily that he wanted a divorce, until he again reached the kitchen.

Then, he turned. Forever.

“Okay, I’ll go with you.” The keys given to Peter and faithfully spoken on the day of Pentecost opened the door to another human heart. In May of 1974, John Stemen was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and received the gift of the Holy Spirit according to God’s promise.


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