2017 Robe of Achievement

We are pleased to honor one of our very deserving women with the Robe of Achievement. Here are a few hints for you to see if you can guess who we are awarding the Robe of Achievement to this year. Like many of the previous Robe recipients, our honoree is a deacon, wife, mother, (including foster mother,) grandmother and great-grandmother. That narrows down the possibilities, doesn’t it? 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.

Doctor Janet Thorngate would you please make your way to the platform as I continue telling of more of your accomplishments and acts of service?

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 the 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 place Janet has served. Her community activities include being a board member for a United Way agency; a member of the Salem International University Auxiliary; she organized and helped cook Thanksgiving dinners for students who couldn’t get home for the holiday; was pianist for community worship services; a choir member at WV Black Heritage Festival; and donates devotional booklets to young people who have attended 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.

2015 Robe of Achievement



The robe we are using was crafted by a former chairman of the Robe of Achievement committee, Yvonne Stephan, to replicate the original robe that had come to us from China. Yvonne lost a courageous battle to cancer in2013 and is greatly missed. We are so thankful to have this robe as a reminder of her and the service she gave to us as a denomination.

Today, I’m going to give a few hints before I reveal our recipient to let you play along in your mind and see if you can figure out who it is. After I reveal who it is, I have several more accolades to share.

This woman has:

  1. Raised 4 children
  2. Worked as a nurse
  3. Been married for 62 years.
  4. Been a member of the Shiloh Seventh Day Baptist church as well as an Associate Member at the Daytona Beach Seventh Day Baptist Church.
  5. She has also served many years on the Women’s Board.

Anybody think they know?


This year we are honoring Ruth Ayars Probasco. Ruth, please make your way up here while I read some of the rest of your wonderful work to further God’s kingdom.


The major part of Ruth’s service to the denomination was her 10 years on the Women’s Board including serving as President, Vice-President, member of the SCSC Committee and writing articles for the Sabbath Recorder. During that time she also served on the NABWU (North American Baptist Women’s Union) board as well as being a member-at-large following her term on the Women’s Board.


Ruth was First Lady when her husband Owen was conference president in 1997. Those of you who have been in that position know what that means in terms of denomination service. She also served on the Host Committee in 2009 as the Displays and Transportation Coordinator.


Ruth was described as being focused on her family, but always willing to help in the community. She worked as a nurse in several elementary schools for 35 years as well as volunteering her nursing skills at Jersey Oaks. She even saved the life a camper one time. She has volunteered as a nurse for American Red Cross blood drives. Not only that, she has received her 10 gallon pin for giving blood to local blood banks. She has literally given of herself! The local food bank is another place she volunteers.


Whether she is in Shiloh or Daytona Beach she finds a way to serve. The list of ways she has served in her local church whichever place she is goes on and on. To name a few; Sabbath School teacher, hosting families, SCSC teams, SDB missionaries and visitors, assisting with fellowship meals and treasurer of the Shiloh Benevolent Society .


She continues to keep in touch with her family by learning new technologies such as Skype and Facebook. But she also keeps up the “old fashioned” communication of remembering everyone’s birthday and anniversary with a card.


Some day she will hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant” from the Lord, but today, we are pleased to honor Ruth Ayars Probasco as our Robe of Achievement recipient for 2015.

2013 Robe of Achievement


The Robe of Achievement Committee as part of the Women’s Board is pleased to announce that Linda VanHorn Camenga is our choice as recipient of the Robe of Achievement this year.


Linda was born in West Virginia to Pastor Delmer and Rowena VanHorn. She counts herself blessed knowing that she was saved at a very early age due to Christian parents that taught her to love and serve God with her whole heart.  Delmer and Rowena were wonderful role models and helped her develop a true servant’s heart.  She was brought up to find the need and make sure it was taken care of. Linda graduated from high school while her father served the Adam Center, NY church.


During her time at Salem College she followed her heart and married Pastor John Camenga 47 years ago, knowing she would continue to be in God’s service with this life choice. While she did not complete her degree in Music Education she later completed her training and was certified in Early Childhood Education. Linda and Pastor John were blessed with four children; Andrew, Faith, Grace and Johnmark. They, along with their spouses Kristin, Mark, Rick and Cathy have blessed them with 13 grandchildren.  These are not the only things that make Linda so deserving of this award.


Following her husband to the churches he was called to serve she helped fill the holes she found. These churches include Salemville, PA; Dodge Center, MN; Little Rock, AR; Blountville TN; Shiloh, NJ; Daytona Beach, FL and Brisbane, Australia. She is currently a member of the Kissimee, FL church. Whether changing diapers, teaching Sabbath School, leading and planning VBS, directing choir, playing the piano or organ or serving as a deaconess she tackled each task with a desire to make sure her Lord and Savior was glorified.


The Women’s Board moved to Daytona Beach, FL while she and Pastor John were serving that church. Linda was very involved with the board move from Shiloh, NJ and worked hard to make the transition go smoothly.  She was glad to be involved with SCSC, serving as the chairman of that committee. She also served as vice president of the Women’s Board. Linda had a vision of changing the SCSC program to a more educational focus and has a real heart for the young adults of our denomination and keeping them actively involved in furthering the work of Christ and SDBs. It was during her time working with the SCSC program that she came in contact with some young adults in Australia. She encouraged their involvement in the program and even set up an exchange program for US young adults to go to Australia and serve in an SCSC project “down under.”


Linda has worked in a hospital, as a foster mom, played piano/organ for community churches, worked in children’s centers – as an early childhood teacher/lead teacher, as a substitute teacher & music teacher, set up and ran a child care center in her home, and has worked in a Dollar General.  She has always worked very hard to help provide for her family and did this along with meeting all the expectations that come with being a pastor’s wife


She has struggled the last few years with heart problems and has had to find less actives roles. This did not stop her heart’s desire to be a servant leader. She was so excited to take on the challenge of missions work in Australia. She picked up a more active role as she started this new ministry.

As of now, she continues to face chronic health issues.  These issues do not allow her to be as active as she would like to be and prevented her from coming to conference to receive this award in person.  However, she continues to serve in the Kissimee, FL SDB church where the youth and young adults have sought her out to mentor and encourage them.  She and Pastor John also provide breakfast for the church on a weekly basis – even though they travel over an hour to get to the church.  They have also opened their home to the whole church on Sabbaths when they cannot use their current facilities and they hosted a retreat for the church this spring.


Linda’s humble servant’s heart has been exhibited throughout her life.  2 Corinthians 12:9 encapsulates it best – “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”  Linda’s faith and servant’s heart has impacted her family, the churches she has been a part of and the communities she has lived in.  Linda, however, has never sought attention or credit for her work.  Her hope is that her service would further God’s Kingdom and draw people to a saving knowledge of Christ.