“It has been a privilege to lead the Historical Society,” Van Broekhoven said. “When I became executive director, the archives were located in two places, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, New York. During my tenure, I was able to bring the two parts together and work through the move to the Atlanta campus of Mercer University. We are now well settled in our new home and ready to move into another phase of our development.” One unexpected benefit of the Atlanta location has been its convenience for visitors from Myanmar, who generally include in their U.S. itinerary a visit to ABHS, as well as some of the forty Atlanta-area congregations made up of refugees from Myanmar (also called Burma).
Van Broekhoven holds a doctorate in history from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and was a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University before being named executive director of ABHS in 1998. She has been active in American Baptist congregations throughout her life, most recently as a member of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta.
At the June 2015 Biennial Mission Summit, Van Broekhoven led the kick off of the At Your Fingertips campaign, the goal of which is to raise $550,000 to move the archives into the digital age. “I am especially proud of the digital resources ABHS has been able to make available to researchers around the world, as evidenced in the special website created for the Judson Bicentennial, www.Judson200.org.” Many of the images and documents scanned for the website were suggested by visitors from Myanmar (also called Burma).
“With our strong Board of Managers and staff, I’m confident that ABHS will make the history and archives of the American Baptist Churches and the Baptist World Alliance secure and available to researchers in digital forms both currently and in the future,” Van Broekhoven said. “I will miss the frequent contact with researchers from around the world, but I am sure that my activities in retirement will include historical projects.”
Founded in 1853, the American Baptist Historical Society cares for the largest and most diverse collection of Baptist materials in the world and publishes the oldest Baptist historical journal, the American Baptist Quarterly. Researchers come from around the globe to research the contributions Baptists have made to church and society.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.