Adventists to Boost Creation Teaching in Former Soviet Union
Leading Russian scientist tells Euro-Asia Division’s year-end meetings that the church faces a challenge.Editor’s note: The Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrates Creation Sabbath on Oct. 28, 2017. Read more about Creation Sabbath.
Seventh-day Adventist leaders agreed to step up the church’s teaching of the biblical account of Creation across the evolution-minded territory of the former Soviet Union just days before local churches join churches worldwide in celebrating Creation Sabbath.
Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson, speaking at year-end meetings of the Euro-Asia Division’s headquarters in Moscow, reminded local church leaders that the seven-day Creation week is at the heart of the church’s mission.
“If you take away Creation, you take away almost everything that we believe as Seventh-day Adventists,” he said.
He noted that Creation is inextricably intertwined with the seventh-day Sabbath, the origin of sin, the plan of redemption, and the Second Coming of Jesus.
“If in evolution we are becoming better, then why do we need salvation?” Wilson said. “If the world is becoming better, then why do we need Jesus?”
Members of the Euro-Asia Division’s Education Committee voted Oct. 24 to create a new job position to promote Creation through seminars, films, books and articles, field trips, and the Adventist Church’s annual Creation Sabbath, which falls on Oct. 28 this year.
Support Through Field Trips
Adventist world church leaders have placed a growing emphasis on Creation as evolutionist theories have crept into some church-run schools. To support Adventists on the front lines of the evolution debate, the church has organized a series of Faith and Science conferences, including a 2014 gathering that brought several hundred educators, scientists, and pastors from around the world to the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Several church divisions have organized field trips of their own. In 2016, the South American Division took local educators, scientists, and pastors to the birthplace of evolution, the Galapagos Islands, while the Trans-European Division led a group to Iceland. The Inter-American Division and North American Division arranged field trips in 2017, while the Southern Asia Division and East-Central Africa Division are planning trips in 2018, said L. James Gibson, director of the Geoscience Research Institute, a driving force behind the Adventist world church’s Creation outreach efforts.
The Euro-Asia Division could organize a field trip to Russia’s Ural Mountains in 2019 or 2020, said division president Michael Kaminskiy.
“As soon as we have someone in place, we will invite you to the Ural Mountains, which has evidence of the Flood, for a special field trip,” he told the Education Committee.
Major Challenge in Russia
The church faces a serious challenge across the Euro-Asia Division, which has only 111,500 members in a population of 322 million people, said Alexei Popov, the Euro-Asia Division’s representative to the Geoscience Research Institute Committee. Atheism was official state policy across the Soviet Union for 70 years, and many Orthodox Christians, the majority faith group in the territory today, accept theistic evolution, which contends that each day of Creation lasted millions of years.
“This is a big problem in the Euro-Asia Division,” said Popov, who works as a physicist at the Russian government’s Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino, a town located 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Moscow.
He spoke to the Education Committee about the need for regular Creation seminars in churches, the translation of related television and video films into the Russian language, and the distribution of books and articles online and in print.
He and Wilson praised the opportunity that Creation Sabbath provides to celebrate God as the Creator and to raise awareness about the Bible’s teaching.
Wilson encouraged division leaders to press ahead with their plans.
“Every one of you as leaders … carry a burden for this special work,” he said. “It is not just for geoscience or the division president or the Education Committee. This is the core of our belief. So, I deputize all of you to be geoscience researchers. Hold up the hands of our scientific professionals and others, because we are in this together.”