Emmanuel College named Dr. H. Vinson Synan ('55) the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year 2013 on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the 94th Annual Homecoming Weekend.
Dr. Synan is Dean Emeritus at the School of Divinity at Regent University in Virginia. He is considered to be the most noted historian of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement and is a well-respected leader in the wider Charismatic Movement. He was the organizing founder of the Society for Pentecostal Studies in 1970 and has given institutional shape to Pentecostal research.
"Dr. Synan, thank you for all you have done for Emmanuel College and for the monumental contributions you have made in our Pentecostal and evangelical heritage," President Michael Stewart said during the presentation. "You are an inspiration, and today we are honored and proud to present this award to you as our 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year."
Dr. Synan has served in the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) as general secretary, assistant general superintendent, and director of evangelism.
He has published 19 books—among them is the Holiness-Pentecostal Movement published in 1971, which was one of the few early scholarly treatments of Pentecostalism and is still a significant work about the origins of American Pentecostalism.
Dr. Synan graduated from Emmanuel in 1955. He also began his teaching career at EC and served on faculty from 1962-1975. During that time, he was a graduate student at the University of Georgia, where he earned his Ph.D. in U.S. Social & Intellectual History in 1967. Just two years ago, Dr. Synan was back on EC's campus to teach a course in Pentecostal/Charismatic History in four weekend sessions. He was ordained as an IPHC minister in 1954 and served as the pastor of the Hartwell PHC during his years on EC's faculty.
As he received the crystal plaque from President Stewart, he shared these comments:
"I first came to EC out of high school 60 years ago in 1953," Dr. Synan explained. "The first job my twin brother Vernon and I were given was to dig a water line for the girl's dorm through solid rock with pickaxes. It was like being on a chain gang.
"However, while I was here I had great teachers such as Dr. Cub Melton and Ruth Tew in history, John Swails in Bible, and Dorothy Poteat in English. I always wanted to teach history like Dr. Melton.
"Also, Miss Poteat had me produce my very first publication. It was the one page history of E.C. in the College Catalog. It ran for several years," he said.
"My first published book was done here as my M.A. thesis at the University of Georgia. It was titled Emmanuel College: the First Fifty Years. I also researched and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation while teaching at E.C. This book, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States, opened all the doors for my future career. I thank God for Emmanuel College and the stupendous progress it has made. The future will be much greater than the past. Thank you for this very high honor," he concluded.
Dr. Synan and his wife Carol have been married 53 years and have four children.
Mini-Gathering Thursday evening October 3, 2013
On Thursday evening before the 2013 Emmanuel College homecoming events, Dr. H. Vinson Synan arrived in Franklin Springs, Ga. This was in anticipation of his receiving on Saturday the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Emmanuel College. When he arrived at about 5:15 p.m., several of his friends who were students with him at Emmanuel, as well as several others, met at the Bar-H Barbecue restaurant for a time of unofficial food and fellowship.
Below is a list of those who gathered to greet Dr. Synan. The atmosphere was a wonderful prelude to the events which happened on campus the following Friday and Saturday. Altogether these events are a portent of greater things in store for our community and for “God With Us,” Emmanuel College.
Vinson Synan and Carol Lee Fuqua Synan,
Vernon Synan and Phyllis Sparks Synan,
James Talmadge and Delores Johnson Talmadge,
Raymond Carr and Sue Carey Carr,
Keith Hearn and Susan Woodruff Hearn,
Julia Rivenbark Collins,
Jack Puckett and Lois Plaster Puckett,
James Sorrow and Rachel Howard Sorrow,
Betty Jo Howard Bailey,
Heidy McDuffie Sullivan,
Jim Lankford and Berthene Carey Lankford,
Mike Stewart and Pam Boggs Stewart,
Garnet Pike and Francis Thornton Pike,
Jerry Stevens and Jean Thompson Stevens, and
C. Y. Melton.