BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College alumna the Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston ’74 will be represented in the Distinguished West Virginians Archives at West Virginia University Libraries in Morgantown.

Her papers will be secured in the West Virginia and Regional History Center at WVU and made available to researchers, historians, and others who are interested.

Thurston is a religion scholar affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Episcopal Church U.S.A. She was ordained in 1984 and has served five U.S. congregations and two overseas ministries. She has written or edited 23 theology books, including “Roman 8: Pondering, Praying, Preaching” (SLG Press) and “All the Fullness of God: The Christ of Colossians” (Wipf and Stock), and six poetry collections.

She has taught in higher education for more than 30 years, including at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Wheeling Jesuit University, and Bethany College.

In 2002, she resigned the William F. Orr Professorship in New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Thurston, a native of southern West Virginia, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (first honors) from Bethany. She went on to receive a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She has completed post-doctoral work in New Testament at Harvard Divinity School; Eberhard Karls University in Tubingen, Germany; and the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem.

Thurston is a founding member of the International Thomas Merton Society. Since writing her doctoral dissertation on Merton, she has written many articles and given retreats and lectured on him in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The Distinguished West Virginians Archives began in 2018 as a way to highlight the contributions the state has had in business, religion, arts, etc.

“The goal of this program is to identify and preserve for posterity personal and professional papers and other information resources that document the lives and legacies of West Virginians who have made particularly noteworthy contributions in their fields,” E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, states in a letter to Thurston inquiring about her works.

An advisory board meets quarterly to evaluate nominations for the Distinguished West Virginians Archives, board chairman John Cuthbert said.

The goal, he said, is to plant a seed to encourage research about distinguished West Virginians and ultimately improve the outside perception of the state.

“Often they go unnoticed outside West Virginia and even in West Virginia,” Cuthbert said. “In history, people get written about because the information is available. If there’s no information, no one can write. We want to encourage people studying West Virginia and writing about West Virginia.”

The Distinguished West Virginians Archives includes works by such notable individuals as Elizabeth “Betty” Chilton, former publisher of the Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail; Rush Holt, Jr., chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former congressman; Thomas Joseph Lopez, retired Navy four-star admiral and NATO commander; former WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr., Bethany alumnus and West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman ‘73; and Don Nehlen, the winningest coach in WVU football history.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.