BP Ledger, Oct. 21 edition

Baptist Press
|
Posted: Oct 21, 2013 5:52 PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger contains items from:

Creation Museum

International Mission Board (two items)

WORLD News Service

World-Class Dinosaur Donated to the Creation Museum

PETERSBURG, Ky. (Creation Museum) -- The array of exhibits at the Creation Museum is about to see the addition of a world-class dinosaur skeleton. An impressive allosaur -- donated to the museum located near the Cincinnati Airport -- is believed to be one of the four best-preserved Allosaurus skulls ever discovered.

Allosaurs, sometimes confused with a T. rex, were large theropod dinosaurs. The museum's new dinosaur probably stood 10 feet high and 30 feet long. It is one of many Allosaurus fossils uncovered in the Morrison Formation of North America. This allosaur is exceptional because rather than mixed and scattered as almost all the Morrison fossils are, the bones were found together, with many in their articulated position.

Ken Ham, president/founder of the Creation Museum and its parent organization Answers in Genesis, stated that this skeleton, dubbed Ebenezer, "fulfills a dream I've had for quite some time. For decades I've walked through many leading secular museums, like the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and have seen their impressive dinosaur skeletons, but they were used for evolution. Now we have one of that class for our museum."

One blessing in getting the allosaur was that the Creation Museum did not seek it out. Ten years ago, the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation bought the specimen and housed it. Thousands of hours later, the bones of this fossil are almost completely cleaned and restored thanks to the DeRosa family of Creation Expeditions. Michael Peroutka, one of the foundation board members, says that this fossil is a testimony to the creative power of God and also lends evidence to the truth of a worldwide catastrophic flooding of the earth about 4,500 years ago as described in the Bible. In order to assure that the display of the fossil represented this teaching, the Peroutka Foundation donated the fossil to the Creation Museum.

Dr. Andrew Snelling of AiG and the Creation Museum says that the new allosaur "stands out for a few reasons. It was found with its bones arranged in their correct anatomical positions relative to each other rather than in a scattered assortment of bones as is often the case. Also, much of the spine and 97 percent of the skull were found. Lastly, the skull is much larger than the famous 'Big Al' dinosaur at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana."

As a geologist, Dr. Snelling added that unlike the way most of the Morrison Formation bones had been found scattered and mixed, the intact skeleton of this allosaur is testimony to extremely rapid burial, which is a confirmation of the global catastrophe of a flood a few thousand years ago.

This stunning allosaur, with teeth averaging over four inches, has 53 teeth still in place. The skull is expected to be on display by Memorial Day 2014. The museum's talented design team has taken on the task of designing an exhibit to feature this skull and the rest of its bones. Meanwhile, the museum increased its insurance coverage by $500,000 to cover it.

The Creation Museum already has other dinosaur-related exhibits, including dinosaur eggs and bones plus realistic animatronic models. Also, a new dragon exhibit asks the question: "Were the many dragons of legend really dinosaurs?"

Ham added: "While evolutionists use dinosaurs more than anything to promote their worldview, especially to young students, our museum uses dinosaurs to help tell the account of history according to the Bible. This remarkable allosaur is a great addition to our dinosaur-themed exhibits. It's been a pleasure to work with the Peroutka Foundation, which wants to use this great fossil in a God-honoring way."

The Creation Museum is an outreach of the apologetics organization Answers in Genesis. The AnswersInGenesis.org website, which is currently displayed on billboards in Times Square, the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, has been voted "Best Ministry Website" two times as determined by the National Religious Broadcasters. (The site attracts over 1 million Web visitors a month.) Its "Answers" magazine has twice picked up the highest award for magazine excellence by the Evangelical Press Association. AiG's high-tech Creation Museum has drawn almost 2 million visitors in six years, and next year AiG will start construction on a full-size, all-wood Noah's Ark. For more on AiG, see www.AnswersInGenesis.org.

**********

More than 130 killed by cyclone, stampede in India

By Caroline Anderson

DELHI (BP) -- The same weekend a deadly cyclone swept through two states in India, killing at least 22, a stampede at a Hindu temple in another state took the lives of 109 people.

Tropical cyclone Phailin touched down Saturday, Oct. 12, in India's Odisha state, and the storm continued through to Andhra Pradesh state on Sunday.

Phailin reportedly was the country's strongest cyclone in 14 years. Odisha state is no stranger to deadly cyclones; in 1999, a cyclone claimed the lives of 10,000 people.

Officials evacuated about 1 million people before Phailin hit, which authorities say reduced the potential death toll of the storm.

Though the cyclone has passed, reality is setting in for the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are returning to their homes. They return to houses crushed by the cyclone's 125-mile-an-hour winds. Many have lost their means of providing for their families because of destroyed businesses and farms. Roads are flooded and blocked with debris. Power lines are down in many areas.

Though thousands have returned home, the BBC reports about 500,000 people remain homeless and are staying in temporary shelters. CNN reports people in coastal areas still wait for help.

Darren Cantwell,* an IMB representative in South Asia, asks for prayer during this time of tragedy.

"As people rebuild and recover physically from this disaster, we pray that they would heed this as an opportunity to cry out to the Creator," Cantwell said. "Only He can heal their hearts and lives."

Temple tragedy

Many in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh also need healing. Sunday, as the cyclone finished its second day of destruction, a stampede near a Hindu temple in Madhya Pradesh led to the deaths of 109 people.

Thousands had gathered in the state to celebrate a Hindu festival. The stampede reportedly began through rumors that a bridge near the temple was about to collapse. Many on the bridge were crushed in the rush to exit the bridge.

Though the first reports of the death toll report 109 dead, IMB representative Jacob Tucker* suspects this number will rise because many people jumped off of the bridge to avoid being trampled, and some people are still missing.

Tucker said he was saddened by newspaper headlines about the cyclone and stampede.

"The cyclone numbers are around 20 deaths, so the headlines were reading, 'Man more Lethal than Nature,'" Tucker said.

India is no stranger to stampedes. In the past year, the BBC reports three other deadly stampedes during Hindu festivals.

" so sad that in our world, religious fervor mixed with mis-truth - rumors of the bridge collapsing - caused more deaths in 10 minutes on one bridge in rural India than a massive powerful cyclone moving across the nation," Tucker said.

Tucker asks for prayer for people to turn to truth and away from the darkness.

"There were 40,000 people standing in an eight-kilometer-long line just to give worship to a false idol," Tucker said. "They are so desperate for hope and an escape to the suffering in this world but no one has told them the true message of hope and Truth and grace."

As India grieves from this deadly weekend, pray for opportunities for local believers and Christian workers to share about eternal security.

"Petition God on behalf of India's precious people, asking that they follow Jesus while there's still time," Cantwell said.

*Names changed.

Caroline Anderson writes for the IMB from Southeast Asia.

**********

Earthquake hits central Philippines, kills 85

By Caroline Anderson

CEBU, Philippines (BP) -- Oct. 15 was a national holiday in the Philippines. What would have been a day of rest and rejuvenation, spent at home or in shopping malls, quickly turned into a day of devastation and terror spent in the streets.

Tuesday morning local time, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked islands in the center of the Philippines, killing at least 85 people.

The majority of the damage exists in the islands of Cebu and Bohol. All IMB personnel are accounted for and safe.

Lily Rose,* an IMB representative living in Cebu, says the earthquake shut down the entire city.

Rose sat at her dining room table on the first floor of her two-story house when the quake hit.

"My thoughts at first were, 'Oh my, an earthquake!'" Rose said. "I intended to continue working at my dining table but it continued to shake and the windows and walls were rattling. I could hear some things falling inside and outside."

Rose walked out on to the patio; all of her neighbors were already in the street. The earthquake began at 8:12 a.m. and many had just gotten out of bed.

Earthquakes are not common in this area. Rose said the buildings in her city are not built for earthquakes. Rose drove around town this afternoon to survey the damage. Several buildings in her immediate area are damaged, but few have major damage, she said.

Aftershocks, many with a magnitude of 4.5, still continue, shaking the homes of Rose and her neighbors.

Rose said the aftershocks are terrifying for her neighbors.

"Pray for the fear. Many here have little experience with earthquakes," Rose said. This is very unsettling for folks."

Rose asked for churches in the U.S. to pray.

"I know the people here may not be aware of it, but they need it," Rose said. "We're a Catholic country, nobody is opposed to prayer."

Rose has not heard of any injury to national believers in her city.

October 15 marks the beginning of Eid ul Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, a Muslim festival commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

The earthquake striking on a national holiday was a blessing in disguise.

"We are all thankful that it was a holiday and no students were out and about," Rose said. "Classes would have been in session at the time of the quake."

Since it was a holiday, there was no rush hour traffic, and this also saved many lives.

Businesses and malls would also have been opened, but never opened because of the earthquake.

"I'm heading to bed," Rose reported at 10:50 p.m. Tuesday local time, 10:50 a.m. EST. "We are still having aftershocks so not sure how much I will sleep. These have changed from shakes to jolts."

Aftershocks are expected to continue through Thursday.

Fifteen people were killed in Cebu City, the Philippines' oldest and second largest city.

Though many escaped tragedy in the island of Cebu, many islanders in Bohol, the epicenter of the earthquake, were not as fortunate.

The BBC reports that at least 69 of the dead were killed in Bohol. One person died in the island of Siquijor.

Rose said there are a number of Southern Baptist and evangelical churches in Bohol. She has not received confirmation yet on whether there are any injuries among the believers.

Pat Melancon, Baptist Global Response's managing director of disaster response, reports that BGR teams are currently on the ground responding to the event through assessment activities and assistance.

"The initial phase of this response will involve determining what can best be done to address the four life-line sectors of water, food, shelter, and health," Melancon said.

"The teams' activities will focus upon meeting urgent needs in the context of each community for a few days or weeks up to many months, depending upon the local situation," Melancon continued.

Rose said she and her coworkers are also making plans of how to be involved in relief efforts.

Many roads and bridges in the area are heavily damaged.

Bohol is famous for its "chocolate hills," a series of symmetrical hills that look like drops of chocolate. Rose said the earthquake decimated the scenic overlook to these hills.

The earthquake damaged historic churches in Bohol and Cebu. Cebu City is home to The Basílica Minore del Santo Niño, the oldest and most revered church in the Philippines. The church was the entry point for Catholicism into the Philippines in the 16th century.

Though Catholicism and a general belief in God exist in many areas in the Philippines, many do not have a personal relationship with Christ, Rose said. The Virgin Mary is worshipped and animism is mixed in with Catholicism.

"Mary is much more important because she's momma, she's the one you go to because she can get the Son to do anything," Rose said.

Though most would not admit it, animism mixes in with Filipinos' beliefs.

IMB representative Bill Harris,* served in the Philippines with his wife for 14 and a half years.

"Though we have had missionaries living in Cebu for probably 30 plus years now, response to the Gospel IMB has been difficult and limited," Harris said.

Harris asks for prayer during this time of disaster.

" that the Cebuanos of central Philippines would see the true Jesus," Harris said.

Pray:

--For disaster relief teams who are currently assessing the damage

--For safety from the continuing aftershocks

--For an end to the fear engulfing many Filipinos

--For opportunities for missionaries and national believers to share the Gospel

*Names changed.

Caroline Anderson writes for the IMB from Southeast Asia.

**********

As American Methodists drift toward same-sex marriage, international UMC members apply brakes

By Thomas Kidd

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WORLD News Service) -- United Methodist pastor Stephen Heiss conducted his first same-sex marriage in 2002, wedding his daughter Nancy to her lesbian partner. Heiss calls that event "the highlight" of his career. Since 2011, when the state of New York legalized same-sex marriages, Heiss has presided at seven more ceremonies, including five at his church. By doing so, Heiss is openly violating United Methodist Church (UMC) law.

In May, Heiss formally notified his bishop, Mark Webb, that he was performing gay marriages, and in June, Webb replied with notice of a complaint against the pastor. On Sept. 20, Heiss and the bishop met but agreed to wait a month before the bishop decides whether to proceed with a church trial.

Heiss has become a hero to Methodist supporters of gay marriage, such as the leaders of the University UMC of Syracuse, New York, which hosted a prayer vigil for the dissident minister when he met with Webb. (University UMC features a gay pride flag on its Twitter profile photo.)

To traditionalists within the UMC, however, Heiss is a troublemaking radical. John Lomperis, United Methodist Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, describes Heiss as a "renegade pastor" who is turning his "destructive energies" against the UMC. But activists insist that Heiss represents a rising tide of clergy who are conscientiously breaking the UMC's prohibition on gay marriages. Andy Oliver, director of communications for the Reconciling Ministries Network, told Religion News Service that his organization counts 569 Methodist-affiliated "churches or communities" and at least 1,500 clergy supporting full acceptance of non-celibate gays.

Backing for gay marriage certainly exists in the UMC, but the denominational picture looks different from a global perspective. The UMC is shrinking in America but growing in other parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. The 2012 UMC General Conference, its quadrennial global assembly, rejected efforts to modify the denomination's stance that homosexual acts are "incompatible with Christian teaching." Some 40 percent of conference delegates were from outside the United States, and they overwhelmingly supported the traditional UMC position.

Thomas Kidd is a professor of history at Baylor University and a senior fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion.

Copyright (c) 2013 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net