Presidential Testimonies: Stephen Thorngate, MD

Presidential Testimonies: Stephen Thorngate, MD

Mar 25, 2013

Continuing the series of “Presidential Testimonies”


In the January Sabbath Recorder, we heard from a number of our past Conference Presidents. At our prompting, they reminisced over some questions and shared their memories. We present another in that series.


0413 p24 SteveThorngate BW
Name: Stephen Thorngate, MD

Conference Year: 1971

Conference Theme: “The Responsibility of Maturity” (Ephesians 4:13)


SR: What inspired you to choose your theme?

Dr. Steve: Seventh Day Baptists in America celebrated our tercentennial that year. Our small denomination had achieved a level of maturity comparable to any persuasion and worthy of pride! I felt honored to be involved in the celebration. I felt strongly that along with the denominational maturity—depending on the level—there comes a gradual increasing responsibility.


What were your biggest challenges during your Presidential term?

Steve: I lived on the west coast. Conference was to be in the denominational birth state of Rhode Island or somewhere in New England. I wanted to visit as many churches and meet with as many people as possible, as well as produce a memorable Conference worthy of a 300-year-old denomination whose maturity is unsurpassed.


Your biggest joys?

Steve: Getting to know and work with SDBs that either I had known or came to know better. I owe much to people behind the scenes like Wayne Rood, Lois Wells, Glen Warner, Gordon Sanford, Alton Wheeler, and the Barbers in Rhode Island.


How much was your family affected by (or involved in) your extra Presidential duties?

Steve: I was just getting going in my medical-surgical practice, but both my partners and my wife, Beverly, were very supportive.


How did your perspective of the Conference or General Council change because of your involvement?

Steve: Since I was so “green” at such work, it was good planning to have me on Commission for the year before so I could improve my understanding of how polity works for our people.

How did you feel as you passed the gavel to the President-Elect?

Steve: Relieved! The next president was Paul Osborn, whom I had gotten to know better serving on Commission. I knew that his Conference year would be well done. Actually, even at this stage of the game, I was thinking that if I had it to do over again, there were things I would have done differently.


What hopes or concerns do you have for the future of Seventh Day Baptists?

Steve: It is good to be proud of our past and conscious of our maturity. But with maturity comes responsibility, which includes advancing to the next stage of maturity.

As a denomination, we should practice and teach Bible-based mature Christianity, and as individuals accept the responsibility St. Paul gives us in Ephesians 4:13.

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