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Juniata College Bestows Honorary Degree on Noted Historian of Anabaptist Faiths

(Posted May 12, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Donald F. Durnbaugh, a resident of James Creek, Pa., noted historian, author and archivist for Juniata College, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Juniata College May 11 at 2 p.m. during Juniata's 125th commencement ceremony.

Durnbaugh is one of the nation's most noted historians of Anabaptist and Pietist religions. Members of the Church of the Brethren (an Anabaptist religious movement) founded Juniata College in 1876. Durnbaugh has published more than 200 articles, reviews and essays on the history of the Brethren Church as well as other Anabaptist religious movements. He served as editor of "The Brethren Encyclopedia," a three-volume project, and is currently completing the fourth and final volume, scheduled to be published in 2004.

He also has written or edited 16 books. Some examples of the books he has written are "Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren" and "The Believer's Church: The History and Character of Radical Protestantism." He also edited "The Brethren in Colonial America."

Durnbaugh started his academic career at Juniata as an assistant professor of history from 1958 to 1962. He left Juniata to become associate professor of church history at Bethany Theological Seminary from 1962 to 1988. He served in France and Germany as director of Brethren Colleges Abroad from 1964 to 1965. In 1988, he returned to Juniata College for a one-year assignment as J. Omar Good Professor of Religion.

He served as professor of history and religion at Elizabethtown College from 1989 until retiring in 1993. He has served as Juniata's archivist since 1993.

Durnbaugh earned a bachelor's degree in history from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. in 1949. He went on to earn a master's degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1952 and a doctorate in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.

Durnbaugh has received the Manchester College Alumni Award in 1978 and received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the college in 1980. He was named a Young Center Fellow at Elizabethtown College in 1993. He received the Colonial History Award from the Colonial Society of Pennsylvania in 1957. He was named a Distinguished Scholar by the Communal Studies Association in 2002.

He is an active member of a number of professional orgainzations, including the American Society of Church History, the Brethren Journal Association, the Communal Studies Association, the Pennsylvania German Society, the Society of German-American Studies and the Huntingdon County Historical Society. He also is very active in many ecumenical origanizations.

Durnbaugh lives near Raystown Lake with his wife, Hedwig. The couple has three children, Paul Berger-Durnbaugh, a teacher at Madison High School in Madison, Wis.; Christopher Raschka, an artist and author of children's books; and Renate Durnbaugh, who works at the Chicago Reader.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.