“If created things are seen and handled as gifts of God and as mirrors of His glory, they need not be occasions of idolatry — if our delight in them is always also a delight in their Maker.” — John Piper
Stan Hudson is a man on a mission — and it’s not sitting at a desk. You’ll frequently find him at a local church for a weekend seminar or presenting a week of prayer at a Northwest Adventist elementary school or academy. It’s a role he’s passionate about as director of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Creation Study Center. For him, origins matter. The question of where we came from connects directly to the question of where we're going.
An Unlikely Beginning
It’s not where he would have envisioned himself while working at McDonald’s in his early 20s. And it’s not where he’d be, if it hadn’t been for his co-worker and friend, appropriately named David Friend.
“David’s the biggest single reason I am a Christian,” says Stan.
They’d become friends at Lynwood Academy in Southern California. Stan loved science, David preferred to dabble in art. But after their high school years, both of them floundered. Stan tried La Sierra College for a year, then he went to the University of California in Riverside as a geology major for a while before dropping out.
Flipping burgers for a living didn’t seem like an attractive path to success. One evening, while Stan and David were hanging out, a sense of their dead-end journey hit hard. David suddenly exclaimed, “Let’s see if we can find God.” It was not the normal line of conversation for two young men with no eternal purpose in life. But something suddenly clicked.
A Prayer for Help
They both wondered how long it would be before Jesus returned. Sobered, Stan prayed his first prayer in years: “Lord, it looks like we’re trying to find You. Can You help us? Amen.”
That simple prayer was answered. With a renewed purpose, Stan headed back to La Sierra, where he graduated with a ministerial studies degree. A few years later, he picked up his Master of Divinity degree at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
So Stan became a pastor, leading churches in Ventura, Lynwood and Whittier, California, and then moving to the Northwest as pastor in Nampa, Spokane and the Moscow (don’t say “cow”)/Pullman district. In 1993 he garnered a Doctor of Ministry degree in church growth from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The title of his dissertation is ironic for a creation buff: “The Evolution of the Role of Pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
A Passion for Geology
As a boy, Stan 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).
A New Opportunity
Why is the topic of creation important to us? What is the mission of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Creation Study Center? Watch this segment on the newly formed Creation Study Center from the 2016 NPUC Constituency Session President's Report.
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, Stan 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, Stan thought once again of his friend, David, who had gone into drafting for a career — until he got laid off. When David 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 Stan called him up and said, “Have I got a project for you!” David was eager to start.
“I thought, this will give David a great opportunity to really minister to others through his art,” says Stan. “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.”
Prayer Partners Again
“Stan and I knelt down and prayed over the project on day one,” says David. “And each day, each time I started on another portion of the work, I prayed that God would guide my hand.” David 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,” says Stan.
So there are already miracles associated with this new creation emphasis. Stan’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. Stan found a 5-foot femur bone from a camarasaurus — the one represented by David’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. Stan 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, Stan’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.
Origins Study Is Key
The study of origins, Stan believes, is central to an Adventist understanding of the Three Angels' Messages. Messages like “worship him who made heaven and earth” and “the hour of his judgment is come” are words meant to be taken as seriously as any God has given. We are to take seriously the God who created and who judges. It’s central to how big God is. We too often assume things about God without truly knowing Him or His ways.
“That’s what I hope we can help accomplish with our creation study efforts,” says Stan. “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. 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.’”
Countering Bad Information
But realizing some things are beyond current understanding is no excuse for settling for false data. Adventist members often struggle with finding solid material about creation. Plenty of bad information with radical or sensational “alternative facts” freely circulates that presents Christians or Adventists as ill-informed on evidence or science. Even among thoughtful Adventists, there are differing perspectives on the creation story. The NPUC Creation Study Center, along with Stan Hudson’s efforts with churches and schools, aims to help add credible information to the menu so Northwest members can confidently study the issues for themselves.
Study Center Now Open
Take a virtual tour of the North Pacific Union Conference's Creation Study Center with director Stan Hudson. Briefly explore and discover the resources the center has to offer.
The study center, located at the NPUC headquarters in Ridgefield, Washington, is now open for arranged visits by school and church groups. There’s plenty for young and old, with graphic murals and fascinating 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 very helpful resource library includes journals, books, DVDs and other materials on issues involving origins.
Stan hopes to hold a special dedication service for the center in August, inviting Max Torkelsen, Jim Gibson and others who have been instrumental in this new focus on the Creator.
To arrange a visit to the center, call 360-857-7037. School groups, Pathfinder 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.
It would be safe to say, however, that Hudson’s primary focus in time is in the extended churches and classrooms around the Northwest. He is happy to schedule church seminars or school weeks of prayer through that same contact phone number.
Beyond the miracles already associated with this center, there are likely many others to follow — some of which may include you, your children, your church or your school. These efforts will help each of us worship our Creator with a deeper understanding than ever before.
Origins do matter. Scripture says, “In the beginning God created … .” Anything is possible when the Creator is allowed to work, a core thought to Stan's favorite Bible verse from Jeremiah 32:27. "Behold! I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?"
Want to know more information or schedule a tour? Email the Creation Study Center or call 360.857.7037.