New Ridgefield center looks at origins of man
RIDGEFIELD, Wash. — Stan Hudson is a man on a mission — and it’s not sitting at a desk. He can frequently be found speaking at churches or schools. It’s a role he’s passionate about as director of the new Creation Study Center at the Ridgefield headquarters for the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC)
For him, origins matter. The question of where mankind came from connects directly to the question of where mankind is going.
The study center is now open for arranged visits by school and church groups. There’s plenty for young and old, with graphic murals and hands-on exhibits, including a large cutaway concept HO-scale (model railroad size) model of Noah’s Ark. Younger children will especially enjoy a chance to search for real fossils they can keep. Associated with the center, a helpful resource library includes journals, books, DVDs and other materials on issues involving origins.
“We don’t have all the answers, but we hope to inspire our members to dig a bit deeper about how and why they believe in a Creator God,” said Hudson. “I love scientists who are willing to say ‘we don’t know everything.’ It doesn’t matter if you’re a creationist or a secular scientist — if you claim to know everything, you are most certainly underestimating the complexity of what you claim. Jim Gibson, Geoscience Research Institute director in Loma Linda, California, is famous for comparing that thought as a creationist to those of evolutionists. ‘As a trained scientist,’ he says, ‘I can live with unanswered questions. I can just live with ours better than theirs.’ ”
But realizing some things are beyond current understanding is no excuse for settling for false data. Christians often struggle with finding solid material about creation. Plenty of bad information with radical or sensational “alternative facts” freely circulates that presents Christians as ill-informed on evidence or science.
Even among thoughtful Christians, there are differing perspectives on the creation story. The NPUC Creation Study Center, along with Hudson’s efforts with churches and schools, aims to help add credible information to the menu so Northwest residents can confidently study the issues for themselves.
Hudson did his undergraduate work in ministerial studies at La Sierra College in California, then earned a master of divinity degree at Andrews University in Michigan. He became a pastor, leading Adventist churches in Ventura, Lynwood and Whittier, Calif., and then moving to the Northwest as pastor in Nampa, Idaho; Spokane, Wash.; and the Moscow/Pullman district of both Idaho and Washington. In 1993 he completed a doctorate of ministry degree in church growth from Fuller Theological Seminary in California.
As a boy, Hudson had always loved earth sciences and rockhounding adventures. That passion, blended with his pastoral roles, led to a radio program that he and Pastor John Kurlinski continue to produce for LifeTalk Radio, called Sink the Beagle, an obvious allusion to Charles Darwin’s fabled ship.
In 2007, he co-produced a series for Hope Channel called In the Beginning. That material was adapted for a weeklong origins seminar by the same name he presented in Moscow, near the University of Idaho. More than 200 people, some of them university personnel and students, attended all seven nights. It was recorded on video and can still be seen replayed on 3ABN (Three Angels Broadcasting Network).
So when Max Torkelsen, then NPUC president, called in 2015 to propose a new full-time role establishing a new creation study focus for the Northwest, Hudson was ready and willing.
“As I recall,” he says with a smile, “my response was, ‘well, let me pray about thi — OK!’”
He was handed an empty room at the NPUC office. After considering the blank walls, Hudson thought of a boyhood friend who had dabbled in art — appropriately named David Friend — who had gone into drafting for a career, until he got laid off. When Friend couldn’t find work for two long years, he decided to pick his artist brushes back up and become really proficient at painting.
And when Hudson called him up and said, “Have I got a project for you!” Friend was eager to start.
“I thought, this will give David a great opportunity to really minister to others through his art,” said Hudson. “It might not be quite like Michaelangelo doing the Sistine Chapel, but it will no doubt be life-changing, for him and for those who come later to the study center.”
“Stan and I knelt down and prayed over the project on day one,” said Friend. “And each day, each time I started on another portion of the work, I prayed that God would guide my hand.”
Friend finished two large murals for the Creation Study Center — one of Mount St. Helens erupting and another of a large dinosaur being overwhelmed by the flood.
“I cannot imagine anything better than what David has done,” said Hudson.
So there are already miracles associated with this new creation emphasis. Hudson’s connection with a former academy friend who was willing and able to drop everything and spend weeks painting murals. That’s one.
Here’s another. To find an affordable large dinosaur bone in good condition is rare. Hudson found a 5-foot femur bone from a camarasaurus — the one represented by Friend’s mural in the study center — and was able to have it shipped at no extra cost across the continent.
But to mount and display such an object weighing hundreds of pounds created a challenge. Hudson was directed to a world-class bone expert who had done mountings for museums around the globe and just happened to live and work a few miles down the road from the NPUC office. The expert was further intrigued by the project since he attended Adventist schools as a child — another miraculous blessing.
Indeed, Hudson’s mission with the Creation Study Center is embedded with the miracles in his own life that have led him to this role — the culmination of a lifelong passion about Scripture and science. It’s centered on his love for the Creator and His creation.
For more information, go to creationstudycenter.com To arrange a visit to the center, phone 360-857-7037 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
School and youth groups, church study groups or individuals are welcome on an appointment basis. Study resources are available on site for pastors, teachers or graduate students, if study appointments are arranged ahead of time.
(This story is adapted from a longer article published in the April 2017 edition of The Gleaner, the magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s North Pacific Union Conference.)