Robe of Achievement 2017

Robe of Achievement 2017

Aug 28, 2017

Janet Van Horn Thorngate

by Karen Payne

We are pleased to honor one of our very deserving women with the Robe of Achievement. Like many previous Robe recipients, our honoree is a deacon, wife, mother, (including foster mother), grandmother and great-grandmother. She is not only a wife, but a pastor’s wife and also a “preacher’s kid.” This being the case, her childhood and youth were spent in WV, NY, and AR. This year she was bestowed with the degree Doctor of Letters honoris cuasa by the Salem International University.

The following is taken from the citation given her with her doctorate:

Mrs. Janet Van Horn Thorngate graduated from Salem College with a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in English and History, and then earned a Master of Arts in English Literature from West Virginia University. She obtained West Virginia’s secondary school teacher certification.

She has spent much of her life as a teacher. She was an instructor in English at West Virginia University and Salem International University, as well as with Upward Bound at then Salem College. She worked as a technical librarian at several Educational Resources Information Center clearinghouses, and was a member of the ERIC National Steering Committee, 1976-1981.

She has devoted much of her life to the Seventh Day Baptist Church, whose members were founders of Salem College in 1888 and whose continuing support over the past 129 years has been valuable to the university. She was librarian and archivist for the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Library. She continues to be an instructor in Church History for the Seventh Day Baptist School of Ministry. She is the editor of Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society publications. She has been President of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society since 2002.

Her other literary endeavors include editorship of Seventh Day Baptist World, the newsletter of the SDB World Federation, of which her husband, Rev. Dr. Dale Thorngate, is President. She has been editor of Lead-Line, the leadership newsletter of the SDB General Conference, and editor and writer of a variety of church and organization newsletters, booklets, etc. Her extensive work in church history and her meticulous attention to detail in her research led to her most recent publication: a volume published by Mercer University Press for their series Baptists in Early North America. Her volume, entitled Newport, Rhode Island, Seventh Day Baptists, was published early in 2017. Another recent work, Seventh Day Baptist World Federation: The First Fifty Years, 1965-2015, was published for the SDB World Federation conference held in Brazil in 2017.

In addition to the activities mentioned in the citation, some of Janet’s church volunteer work includes: serving as Youth Advisor, pianist, Sabbath School teacher, Vacation Bible School teacher, Camp JOY board member, various roles at church camps, and church secretary.

Janet’s denominational service includes being Youth Field Worker in Colorado before there was an SCSC program, and most of you are familiar with her work on the Historical Society/Council on History not only as a member, but as President. She served on the Faith and Order Committee for many years and as chairperson for over 10 years. Along with husband Dale, she co-directed Young Adult Pre-Con in 2006 and served as Conference Choir pianist that year. She even wrote the theme song for conference in 1978 Bearing the Fruit. How many of you remember that song? She has been part of the US Delegation to World Federation meetings since 1986.

Church and denomination activities aren’t the only places Janet has served. Her community activities include being a board member for a United Way agency; being member of the Salem International University Auxiliary; organizing and helping cook Thanksgiving dinners for students who couldn’t get home for the holiday; being pianist for community worship services; being a choir member at WV Black Heritage Festival; and donating devotional booklets to young people who attend the Salem church.

Time does not permit us to tell of all the ways Janet has served her community, church, and denomination. She is an exemplary Christian, a life-long Seventh Day Baptist, and truly a woman deserving of this Robe of Achievement.

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