HISTORY OF TCCSA
History of Twin Cities Creation Science Association
as told to Ross Olson
Several individual stories weave together into the history of TCCSA and this is an attempt to integrate them into an understandable chronology. Consider it a work in progress and if you have information that will help to flesh out the narrative, please contact the author, whether it be corrections, additions or criticisms.
Bill Overn's Story
Bill grew up in a family that understood the young earth creation story. His father was a strong creationist and science professor who was constantly giving young Bill material on the topic. Bill also attended Concordia Lutheran High School in St. Paul which had a biology teacher who was very alert to the evidence against evolution and, for instance, posted news articles about the discovery of the "living fossil" Coelacanth and pointed out how this discredited the usual geologic timetable.
After a stint as an electronics officer in the South Pacific, Bill was a student at the University of Minnesota when a providential meeting took place. He was picked up as a hitch hiker in 1947 by Dr. Henry Morris, who was then on the faculty at the University. Dr. Morris asked Bill about his spiritual status and gave him the book "That Ye May Believe," which was his earliest book on creation although at that time he seemed to embrace the "Gap Theory." Bill had not been open about his creationist beliefs before that time, thinking that if objective and honest scientists accepted evolution, then there must be a considerable body of evidence for it. He was convicted of this when reading the book and further, just after finishing the book, received a phone call from the Chairwoman of Gamma Delta, the Missouri Synod student organization wondering if he could give a couple of talks on the relationship of the Bible and Science. Bill recalls that before that time, he would not have done it, but the Lord's timing was impeccable.
At one of those talks was a pastor who asked Bill to speak at his church. Further contacts and word of mouth publicity lead to a regular speaking ministry that involved many churches in the area and beyond at the rate of about a talk a month which has continued into the present.
After Bill had started working for Univac, in about 1963 or 1964, he was awakened at about 7:00 am on a Saturday by a phone call from Rev. Walter Lang. Walter was at that time pastoring in Caldwell Idaho but also traveling and lecturing on the Bible and Science. He had heard about Bill from people at a church where he was speaking and wanted to get acquainted. Bill recalls that neither was impressed by the other. Walter did not have scientific training and was mispronouncing words to the point that Bill did not understand what he was talking about. Walter felt Bill must be ignorant of what he considered exciting scientific developments that confirmed the Bible.
Walter Lang's Story and Bible Science Association
Walter did have enthusiasm and skill as a promoter, however. He saw himself as the publicity arm of the Creation Research Society. Later Walter was instrumental in convincing Henry Morris to leave his faculty position in Virginia to start the Institute for Creation Research which was initially conceived as the research division of Bible Science Association, Walter's organization. Bill could see that God was using Walter to get churches and Christians interested in creation and in stimulating the formation of local chapters as well as sponsoring conferences or conventions where people could share information and begin to network.
In September 1963, after 26 years as a Lutheran Pastor, Walter Lang and his wife Valeria started publishing the Bible Science Newsletter from Grace Lutheran Church which they were serving in Caldwell Idaho. It was seen as a means of promoting creation in the churches. Beginning on the church mimeograph machine, it soon became a full time job and the Langs resigned the pastorate. In the summer of 1964, Bible Science Association was organized as a non-profit educational and religious organization. The mailings quickly grew to 5000 copies per month and book distribution was added as requests came in for those mentioned in the Newsletter.
In the fall of 1964 a Creation Seminar was held in Southern California. Speakers included founding members of Creation Research Society, which had been formed in June of 1963 as a split off from the American Scientific Affiliation because of its drift into long ages and theistic evolution. ASA started in 1941 as an organization of scientists who accepted creation. The publication of John Whitcomb and Henry Morris' seminar work, "The Genesis Flood," in 1961 was a rallying point for young earth creationists who accepted a literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis.
At the 1964 conference, having contact with members of Creation Research Society, Rev. Lang realized that Bible Science Association's role was in popularizing the scientific work of CRS and promoting the concepts of six day creation and a world-wide flood to the churches. This was seen as crucial in preventing the drift into liberalism which gradually reinterpreted Scripture and eventually even rejected the Biblical message of sin and salvation.
After several changes of location due to growth of the work, the addition of mailing equipment and eventually several printing presses, Bible Science Association moved from Idaho to Minneapolis in 1978. Bill Overn took an early retirement from Univac to help. Computers began to handle the mailing lists and with Bill's expertise, pioneering versions of computerized word processing and type-setting were set up. During that time, the Bible Science Newsletter included some original scientific articles and powerful essays and commentaries by Nancy Pearcy. A Radio program was initiated and several publications put out including "Five Minutes With The Bible And Science" and the "Science Reader" series. (See Rev Lang's history of this period, now online at http://www.creationism.org/lang/Lang2DecadesCrtn/index.htm.)
Creation Conventions were held in many cities and in some cases lead to the organization of local creation organizations. Eventually Bible Science Association changed leadership, eventually changing its name to Creation Moments. Rev. and Mrs. Lang started Genesis Institute, continuing to promote creation and make resources available, based in the Twin Cites until moving to Seattle in 1997 to be closer to their children. After Valaria's death, Walter has continued his work and serves on the board of Creation Association of Puget Sound.
Bob Helfinstine's Story
Bob had been interested in creation from childhood. His father was a machinist and an amateur geologist who made hammers for rock collecting expeditions. He believed in long ages and that was Bob's leaning. He had heard about flood theory, attributing for most if not all geologic deposits to the Genesis Flood. But he wondered about the Frozen Mammoths of the arctic regions. If they were flood deposits, what were all the layers of rock underneath. When in Sweden from 1972 to 1973, on loan from Honeywell to Saab Aircraft, he took along a number of books on post flood catastrophes and later read Velikovsky's works with great interest.
On return to Minneapolis in April 1973, he worked with Peter Larson who was involved in the planning that lead to the formation of TCCSA. He invited Bob to come to a meeting but noted Bob's long age leanings. After Bob put in about 1000 hours of his spare time - which was always in short supply in those days - in researching post flood catastrophes, Peter asked him to present it to TCCSA. Eventually Bob was asked to join the Board and has been on it ever since. His second talk, in 1975, was "A Correlation of Joel, Amos and Isaiah with the Catastrophic Event of their Times." His strongest interest remained the area of post-flood catastrophes and their contribution to the geologic record.
Bob served as President of TCCSA early on and then as treasurer from 1986 to 1995 and again as president from 1995 through 2001.
Peter Larson's Story
Peter Larson recalls his first interest in creation arising from a fellow employee at Honeywell mentioning the Creation Research Society. Peter subsequently subscribed to the Creation Research Quarterly and saw in it an ad for the 1972 Creation Convention in Milwaukee. He called Walter Lang in Caldwell Idaho to get details and drove there with Ron Constable. Highlights of the Convention were talks by Henry Morris and George Mulfinger. There was also a lot of informal fellowship and networking that went on in addition to the formal presentations. It was about that time that Peter met Bill Overn.
In January or February of 1973, Peter recalls meeting with a group called together by Katherine Sorenson. He subsequently became part of the group planning for the development of a local creationist organization. He did not recall mentioning this to Bob Helfinstine but it must have flowed out naturally because Bob remembers it distinctly. Peter developed an interest in Continental Drift and gave a talk on the subject that also explored correlation with the "division of the earth" that took place in the days of Peleg.
David Fruehauf's Story
David had heard the creation story in Sunday School as a child and youth in a
conservative Lutheran church, but when he went to college at Kent State University in the
late 1950's he began to be bombarded with evolution. He majored in philosophy
and mathematics as a pre-seminary student and was targeted by the agnostic
professors for ridicule, usually by asking him what he believed about origins.
Because of this he was motivated to study the subject, finding Rehwenkle's "The
Flood" and Klotz' "Genes, Genesis and Evolution" but few other resources. He
was allowed to write papers and give talks on the evidence for creation.
When Whitcomb and Morris' book, "The Genesis Flood" came out it was a giant step
forward in its depth and scientific detail. In the early 1960's, David moved to
Minnesota to attend seminary and subsequently met Walter Lang and Bill Overn.
Seminary had to be set aside to begin working as a math teacher to support a
growing family, although he continued church work as a part-time youth pastor.
David was very interested in the formation of TCCSA and although he did not feel
he had adequate scientific qualifications, served as the first president for one
term "because nobody else wanted it."
When his family changed churches, he was encouraged by Vision of Glory Lutheran
Church in Plymouth to speak on the topic of creation. Because the presentations were
well-received, they grew into a 6 hour seminar which was the core of what turned
out to be a 12 year lecturing ministry. When the invitations stopped,
David saw it as a signal that others with stronger scientific credentials were
filling the gap. But it was this experience and his contacts in public school
teaching that allowed him to later spearhead a creation inservice -- featuring
Don Chittick -- sponsored by the Robbinsdale School District, and also to give creation
presentations to science classes until that was stopped by a science coordinator
who opposed "teaching religion in the science classes."
After taking early retirement from public education, David completed Seminary requirements and was ordained as a pastor in the Lutheran church - Missouri Synod.
Formation of Twin Cities Creation Science Association
Soon after his meeting with Walter Lang, Bill Overn was invited to Idaho and given contacts in states adjoining Minnesota by Walter and people with whom he communicated. Bill became convinced that a local chapter of Bible Science Association was needed in Minnesota and made it known that he would be willing to work on it if there were another volunteer who would come forward.
In summer of 1972 at the Creation Convention in Milwaukee, sponsored by Walter Lang. Bill contacted interested people he had met at his lectures, and a van load drove from Minneapolis to Milwaukee. At the conference Bill was pleased to see his former pastor, Hans Theiste. They were shown a rough cut of the film, "Footprints in Stone," produced by Films for Christ.
Shortly after that conference, Fred Schmugge, who was a childhood friend of Bill, called and volunteered to help organize a creationist organization. He was a minister who also worked as a tech writer in another division of Univac. He had gotten interested in creation after hearing a talk by Henry Morris on the earth's magnetic field. They met on a Sunday afternoon and began to lay the groundwork for what eventually became the Twin Cities Creation Science Association.
A number of interested people were contacted, including Peter Larson, Dave Fruehauf, and Max Callen. They decided to sponsor a showing of the film as part of an organizational meeting for the new association. They secured space in the Minneapolis Lutheran High School and set a date for the summer of 1973. They brainstormed a list of people who might be interested and got about 100 names from Walter Lang out of his mailing list. Peter Larson agreed to allow his name to be put up for President and others were willing to be various officers. They prayed for an attendance of at least 100 as a sign that they should continue.
About 120 showed up on a very hot summer evening to a meeting room without air conditioning and the film was well received. A somewhat parliamentary meeting was held and people were asked to join. But a number of circumstances threatened to derail the process. At the end of a long hot session, Walter Lang, who had arrived from Idaho, wanted to talk to the group. He also needed airfare. There was an emotional reaction that lead several key figures to oppose becoming a local chapter of Bible Science Association (BSA). Peter Larson also felt he could not serve as President. Bill Overn was unable to serve. He felt he was too heavily committed with speaking, frequent out-of town work assignments, and duties as a Regent of Bethany Lutheran College. David Fruehauf agreed to serve as president for 6 months. Fred Schmugge served as Secretary.
After about that amount of time and consideration of all the factors, Peter Larson agreed to be President, and TCCSA also did become a local chapter of BSA, noting that there were advantages to that association and that there were strong locally controlled chapters in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Seattle as well as Southern California where Robert Kohfahl began his ministry and where Nell Seagraves and her son Kelly were working to promote creation.
Monthly Meetings were begun and topics were taken by members of the core group as well as outside speakers who had been at national conferences and agreed to come. Peter Larson, Bill Overn, Max Callen, Dave Fruehauf, all part of the core group, and several professors from Bethany Lutheran College, Bethel College and Northwestern College and teachers from Lutheran High Schools were regular speakers. There was a great hunger for information among those interested and a paucity of resources compared to the present. There were some who heard about the organization and volunteered themselves to speak. One of those early volunteers was Bob Helfinstine who heard about the group from Peter Larson. Katherine Sorenson was very involved in organizing the activities and the International Conferences held in 1976 and 1983.
Fred and Mary Seitz came to a newly-formed Evangelical Lutheran Synod Church -- Heritage Lutheran in Apple Valley -- asking "Do You believe Jesus is God?" Bill Overn, who was involved in that start, assured her that it was a fundamental Lutheran doctrine. Mary Seitz related that the new assistant pastor at the Lakeville ALC church had told the congregation that he did not believe it. This illustrated to Bill the progressive deterioration of faith that accompanies the erosion of the authority of Scripture and the importance of being "Bible believing." Mary Seitz, recognizing the importance of creation to biblical belief became a tireless worker for TCCSA, and the chief promoter for its first project.
About that time, Comet Kohoutek was anticipated to be a spectacular show in the sky and interest in comets was high. George Mulfinger was invited to come up from Bob Jones University and show that the existence of comets, since they lose significant mass with each approach, indicated a young solar system. Thanks to Mary Seitz, a large attendance showed up, but Comet Kohoutek did not. Rather Kohoutek essentially proved the deterioration theory by being barely visible.
A year later a teachers' conference was planned in the Robbinsdale School District and by the influence of David Freuhauf, the School Board agreed to give continuing education credit. Donald Chittick spoke, the Bible Science Newsletter was distributed and creation-friendly textbooks were made available. The planning committee purchased 100 sets of materials and prayed for 100 attendees. Exactly 100 people came, paid $30.00 tuition, and heard the case for creation.
Another example of the Lord's hand in that meeting was the fact that a couple of weeks before, Dr. Chittick had been injured when his car fell off a jack and fractured one of his ribs. He was improving when he got on the plane for the Twin Cities but by the time he arrived was in a great deal of pain and unsure if he could go on with the speaking. Peter Larson called the committee to pray, and the pain was relieved. After the meetings, on the way to the airport, the pain returned.
After those meetings and for the next two years, David Fruehauf presented the creation model as a guest speaker in biology classes at Cooper and Armstrong High Schools. Then, opposition by the district's science coordinator and several science teachers ended the classes.
The monthly meetings continued through the years, attended by an average of 50 people, including children and adolescents. Families were interested from the very start. Often at the meetings a vote would be taken on which topic would be addressed the next month. The attendees were those sympathetic to creation or very open minded towards it with very few exceptions. Bob Shadewald, a skeptic, attended frequently, asked questions of speakers and exchanged articles with Bill Overn both pro and con a few years ago. We sadly heard of his untimely death a few months ago. Lately Tom Lawson and Bill Volna have been frequent attenders who disagree. We have yet to encounter a disruptive guest.
There was a second national Creation Convention sponsored by Bible Science Association held in Milwaukee attended by several from the Twin Cities group. The idea to hold the next such event in the Twin Cities began to develop. There was a desire to draw the scientific community to the meetings and so the name was changed from a Convention to as conference. Peter Larson recalls that a few people complained about the monthly meetings being started in prayer, feeling that it might alienate non-Christian attenders.
In 1976 the third national Creation Science Conference was sponsored by Bible Science Association and TCCSA. The dates were August 15-18, 1976. It was held at Northwestern College in Roseville before the Totino Fine Arts building was built and before there was air conditioning in the buildings. Bill Overn was program chairman, and speakers included Dr. Don Chittick, Dr. Clifford Burdick, Dr. Tom Barnes, Dr. Clifford Wilson, Dr. Robert Kofahl, Dr. Duane Gish and a number of others. It was at that conference that Bob Helfinstine presented his paper "A Correlation of Joel, Amos and Isaiah with the Catastrophic Event of their Times." (which had been presented at a TCCSA meeting in 1975.) Dr. Chittick made a presentation on converting biomass waste into useful fuel with a catalytic converter, and had pictures of actual applications of the process.
Al Heitkamp's Story
Al Heitkamp was challenged by Walter Lang in 1968 to remember that "Adam and Eve were real people." At the time, Al was a chemist, was teaching Sunday School and about to become Sunday School superintendent at his church. His interest was captured and realized that although he was a scientist, he had received no background in this area. In 1976, he awoke in the middle of the night aware of the Lord speaking to him, saying to sell his extra business and reduce his church responsibilities in order to devote more time to the cause of creation.
Al became involved with TCCSA at the time of the 1976 Conference and later joined the TCCSA Board and also the Bible Science Board. At the 1983 Conference, he gave a talk on the Cretaceous Iridium layer, showing that Noah's Flood was the explanation that best fit the evidence. This concept was carried further by others in the 1992 Conference. He continues to speak and serve on the Board.
The Gish Kirkwood Debate
At the 1976 National Creation Conference an attempt was made to hold a debate between Dr. Duane Gish and Dr. Sam Kirkwood, a well-known biochemist at the University of Minnesota. It did not materialize at that time, but a year later, in 1977, agreement was reached with the participants and Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota (seating capacity 5000) reserved. Promotional leaflets were printed up and given to churches for further distribution. Luther-Northwestern Seminary and St. Thomas College refused to allow the information on their campuses.
There was no idea of how many might be coming until the committee received a phone call from the University police saying that they had received so many phone calls asking about bus parking that they would need $750.00 to cover the cost of extra manpower. It turned out that the auditorium was filled and the reaction was powerful according to questions submitted and surveys taken at that time. A video tape was made, which was a major production in those days, and generated wide interest, not the least of which was the feeling by evolutionists that creation was not easy to defeat in a confrontation.
The next year TCCSA organized a debate that pitted two senior professors from the Hamline University science staff against Bill Overn and Dr. John Cunningham of Northwestern College. The head of the Hamline department of science showed up carrying a Bible, and attempted to steer the debate into that area. Modern evolutionary debaters usually are more sophisticated.
In 1978 Rev. Lang moved the Bible Science Association from Idaho to Minneapolis where he felt there would be more financial support for his work. Volunteers including TCCSA members came to his aid and Mel Schwanz began to work for him as an office manager. Bill Overn eventually gave up his consulting business and went to work for BSA. TCCSA was always a separate organization but with a strong relationship to BSA. For years, a TCCSA membership included a Bible Science Association Newsletter subscription. Several TCCSA members submitted original scientific papers to the Bible Science Newsletter and Bill Overn's niece, Nancy Pearcey wrote lucid analysis pieces during the heyday of that publication. A subscription was part of the TCCSA membership package.
In August 1983 a major International Creation Conference was sponsored by TCCSA. It was designed to be done in a manner equivalent to any secular scientific meeting, including both invited and submitted papers. It drew many well-known speakers and was a major boost for the Twin Cities group.
Jeannene Forshee's Story
Jeannene Forshee was browsing through a used book store and her eye caught a couple of creationist books. Later, she heard an announcement on the radio about a meeting at Northwestern College being put on by The Institute for Creation Research and at that meeting heard about TCCSA. She began attending regularly and was eventually asked to serve on the Board and also to edit the Newsletter.
Jeannene got the idea of a lending library since there are so many valuable resources available that can bring the message of creation even farther than the meetings, but at first the Board was not interested. She decided to pray "until the Lord changed their minds." Eventually they did agree, especially when it was clear that there would be no additional expense. A notice went out and there were two major donations. Irene Nistle gave a creation video tape library of 80 titles and there was an anonymous cash donation of $200.00.
In the Spring of 1991, Jeannene began running the library out of her home as a mail order service. People paid the postage both ways and gave donations if they desired, all of which allowed the service to not only be self supporting but to regularly add new resources. The major users turned out to be home schoolers. This continued for 4 years and was beginnning to outgrow Jeannene's small home. At that point, Dee McLellan, a home schooler who had heard about TCCSA through the library, got permission from her church, Grace Church of Roseville, to house the library at the church.
After 6 months when it looked like the deal was off, it arose with an expanded vision to providing resources with a Christian perspective in many subject areas, one of which would be creation science. Jeannene and four other women planned the project and asked TCCSA to release the creation lending library, which they did with the proviso that if the new venture folded, those resources would return. The Christian Education Resource Center (CERC) -- now called CRC -- was born and has now grown to 5,500 titles. It is run by voluteers as a walk in lending library, funded by yearly memberships or small fees of $1.00 per resource.
When the film FOOTPRINTS IN STONE was popular, TCCSA had several board members showing the film to church groups and youth activities. When the controversy arose over some of the track details of the Taylor Trail, Bible Science manager Bill Overn asked TCCSA board members Bob Helfinstine, Jerry Roth and Al Heitkamp to serve on a task force along with Paul Bartz from the Bible Science staff to investigate the facts. That began a investigation in 1986 that lasted until 1993. The results of the investigation were published in 1994 in the book TEXAS TRACKS and ARTIFACTS by Bob Helfinstine and Jerry Roth.
Speakers through the years included Professor Thomas Barnes on the earth's magnetic field, Dr. A.E. Wilder-Smith on information theory, and Dr. David Menton on the wonderful microscopic complexity of feathers compared to their supposed evolutionary predecessor, scales. Dr. Fred Byerly spoke on biomass conversion and Dr. Steidl of Seattle on astronomy. Dr. Walter Brown made several visits with his comprehensive series "In the Beginning." Eryl Cummings related his life-long quest for Noah's ark and his interviews with over two dozen eye-witnesses of the ship, including three members of the 1917 Russian military expedition. Over 300 presentations have been made at regular meetings, plus many more at special seminars and conferences. The last International conference was held in the Twin Cities in August 1992. Among the speakers was Bob Helfinstine who presented data on lack of decay in garbage dumps and its relationship to the preserved Mammoths in arctic mud deposits. He also provided information that the majority of mammoth remains are post-flood surface deposits which is contrary to many opinions that they are a late flood deposit..
Linda Gunderson's Story
"A seed was planted in the 70's when I heard Dr. Thomas Barnes on the radio speaking about evidences for a young earth. But it wasn't until 1991, when I attended a creation seminar by Dr. Walt Brown that I really became interested in creation, the great flood and Noah's ark. Then I attended TCCSA's Creation Conference in '92, where I met Carl Baugh and Dr. Don Shockey. Those encounters, with three explorers who had been to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's ark, changed my life. The ark and the flood became my specialty area, and led to speaking engagements to many groups."
"I eventually started attending the monthly meetings of both TCCSA and a group in Burnsville sponsored by Walter Lang of the Genesis Institute. I helped bring Dr. Walt Brown and Dr. Don Shockey back to town, and assisted with advertising and promotion of creation events hosted by the different creation groups in Minnesota. And, a few months ago (summer 2000), I had the profound privilege of becoming a TCCSA Board Member. I guess the seed has come to fruition."
Fred Koestner's Story
I went through most of high school unsaved and believing in evolution. When I was saved in 1980, I knew that I was supposed to believe the Bible, and that it said that God created the world in 6 days. It never occurred to me to take Genesis as anything other than literal, but I didn't know how to reconcile the Bible and science. After about 4 years I finally met someone who could point me to Morris & Whitcomb's "Genesis Flood". Wow! What a revelation! There was real, scientific evidence for the Flood.
After then reading Gish's "Evolution: The Fossils Say No!", I also realized that there was no evidence for evolution. The scales were lifted and I have never looked back. Even 4 years of Geology at the University of Minnesota could not convince me that there was any valid evidence for evolution or for an old age for the earth. I really can't remember how I found out about the TCCSA. Someone I knew must have told me about it. I do remember that one of the first events I attended was an all-day seminar by Dr. Walter Brown. He really made sense to me, and I have been partial to his flood model ever since.
Gary Elsesser's Story
"In the mid-1980's I came across a number of Creation-Science (CS) books, most likely in a Christian bookstore in New Jersey. "The Genesis Flood" was one of the first. I also recall reading some of Dr. Gish's book(s) on the fossil record and various technical monographs on radio-metric dating, magnetic field decay and the like. Some time around 1986, I attended a debate between Dr. Gish and a biology professor in Southern New Jersey."
"I joined the Creation Research Society while out east (i.e., before July 1988). Though not connected with, or aware of, any CS-group in the area, my interest was held by the force and significance of the arguments. The philosophical, and theological implication were clear to me at the time. This was too important a topic to ignore. I was also concerned about the Scientific implications: if the foundation is poor the building will not stand."
"Don't recall how I learned about TCCSA. I attended the 1992 conference in Roseville and had been to a few meetings before then. Before TCCSA, my only CS connections were through books, the Creation Research Society Quarterly and Institute for Creation Rresearch publications. It has been good to have a more direct involvement."
Dave Stoltzmann's Story
"Howard Johnson invited me to attend the meetings in about 1990, and I went as I enjoy getting together with Howard. What a reward for me to meet the TCCSA and creationism crew, including Pastor Lang. I helped a little with some of Walter Lang's local meetings over the years (presenting Astronomy and Optics to his group), and helped a little at the local Creation Science Conference in the 90's. About 1995 I got the bug to try to communicate with some of the scientific journals and magazines about another perspective to evolution, and out of this developed the letters I have submitted, and the talk I gave in November of 2000."
Russ & Tricia McGlenn, John Nuckols and Adventure Safaris
In 1991, Russ and Tricia McGlenn were planning on teaching on an overseas mission field. Russ had left his science teaching positions at Blaine Christian Academy and Northside Christian School but as the overseas opportunity seemed to close for them, Russ became involved in Video production and Tricia started teaching English as a Second Language.
In 1993, a friend, Kathy Lundquist, invited Russ to teach science at Northern Lights Home School Co-op. From 25 students his classes grew to 250 students the next year. The following year Russ had 500 students in creation science home school classes.
In 1994, recognizing a common purpose with TCCSA, Russ and Tricia became home missionaries under its auspices. Because Russ is 1/8 Ojibwae, he felt a special burden to reach the Native peoples with the creation message. Evolution had been used in the past as a rationalization for treating the natives as less than fully human and Darwin was not their friend. They needed to know that the Lord Jesus Christ who created the harmonious natural world that they so appreciated, and human beings as its stewards, is indeed the Great Spirit whom they can know in a personal way.
In 1995, John Nuckols had been laid off by Control Data from his position in the Marketing Communications Department. His family had been home schoolers from the beginning and he had provided science information for his own children and other home schoolers in the neighborhood but began to realize that there was a wider need for this and that the Lord was leading him into a different career path. He became aware of Russ McGlenn's work through TCCSA talks of the Red Record and Effigy Mounds and asked to join him. They became aware of the opportunity and need to provide science teaching for home schoolers. They also realized that there was evidence for creation that could be appreciated on field trips to nearby locations. These excursions were called "Adventure Safaris" and began to become popular.
John's experience in marketing allowed him to see the potential for growth and make suggestions to facilitate it. The name, "Adventure Safaris," which had originally been applied only to the creation field trips, became the name of the whole organization. A logo was designed and much of the teaching material was computerized.
From the start John had wanted to sell books but did not want to compete with Walter Lang who was doing that through his organization "Genesis Institute." When Walter moved to Seattle, John took over the bookselling ministry in the Twin Cities area, offering the material to home schoolers and at creation meetings.
The Science Fair began as an opportunity to show off the science skills of home school students and promote the science classes that enhanced those skills. The first one was held at the Coon Rapids Evangelical Free Church in February of 1996, but it was then moved to the Har Mar Mall so that the general public could see. Julie Von Vett became the coordinator and the number and quality of the entries has continued to grow. Some very interesting interactions have taken place with visitors to the exhibits. Most are just very impressed with the abilities of the students and many become aware for the first time of the scientific case for creation through those projects that deal with the issue. Some evolutionists have entered into long discussions with the participants.
Russ has developed a special interest in the Ark of Noah and has built a very elaborate "GI Joe Scale" model which he exhibits at the Science Fair, at various large creation meetings and conventions and for special classes and presentations.
John's background is electrical engineering and he is most comfortable with physical science, but offers a variety of topics in earth and life sciences as well. One area of interest includes the so-called vestigial organs -- which have all eventually found to have functions. He has developed hands-on teaching tools such as trading cards or models, for getting these concepts across to young children. John currently teaches a 16 session science curriculum, every other week, to about 600 students in 13 different home school co-ops scattered across the state of Minnesota and is looking for more!
John also has a dramatic side and has prepared a very convincing hour-long impersonation of Louis Pasteur, in English but with just enough French attitude to make you think you were really in the company of that great creative scientific thinker who was also a creationist.
Dan Nuckols, son of John, also has an artistic flair and began doing cartoons for the Creation Bulletin of TCCSA as a junior high school student in 1998. He has since done work on illustrations and logos for the website and is developing and enlarging his Creationist cartoon series, " Primordial Soup."
The opportunity to be involved in digging for dinosaur fossils began with an invitation from a Christian rancher in Wyoming whose property contained large numbers of fossils. Expert fossil hunter Joe Taylor of Texas participated and trained Russ in the techniques of digging, recovering, preserving and cataloguing the finds. Although that ranch eventually became unavailable, other opportunities opened up and the summer dinosaur digs continued.
For several weeks each summer Russ invites families and individuals as well as unaccompanied teens to be trained in the techniques and then to actually do the work of excavating and also experience the thrill of a find. The recovered bones -- of one or more individual Sauropods -- are being kept on the South Dakota ranch (near Rapid City) where they were found and will eventually be displayed.
A relationship has been developed with the community in the Rapid City area and Russ has spoken to the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary. Their interest may be in the commercial ramifications of the digs, but they have also been receptive to the evidence for the creation/flood model of the dinosaur remains. Also, as word of the digs has spread, visitors come to the site, about 230 people over the summer 2000 dig season. They are very interested in the finds and their explanation. The Black Hills Creation Science Association, started by Dr. Randy Guliuzza and now under the leadership of Dave LaFrance has an interest in and a cooperative relationship with Adventure Safaris.
Being involved in the search for dinosaur remains, Russ also took interest in Native Americans stories of the Manipogo, a large creature that has been seen in Lake Manitoba and connected lakes and rivers. Russ has taken groups to interview residents of the area and to look for evidence of these beasts beginning in the summer of 1999. Over time, the theories of their nature and habits are being refined. Currently it is hypothesized that the creatures really exist and that they live in the sea but enter the Nelson River leading from Hudson's Bay to the Lake Manitoba system of waterways when the ice is out. The species may be a reptilian plesiosaur-type creature although mention has been made of basilosaurus, which might be in the whale family.
Not all members of the larger Creationist community agree on the existence of these creatures, whose descriptions sound similar to those of the Loch Ness monster and similar creatures described in several other locations around the world. Nor do all Creationists agree about various other evidences of creation, such as the human and dinosaur foot-prints in the Paluxy River rocks in Texas. Creationsts, however, unlike evolutionists, are free to entertain these hypotheses and look for evidence to confirm them. Evolutionists, on the other hand, deny any possibility because they have declared dinosaurs extinct some 65 million years ago.
Dave Johnson's Story
"I don't really have a story. I have always known the Bible was true. My
brother told me that TCCSA needed an editor for the newsletter so I
volunteered. I didn't know much about the organization before that. It
seems I need to keep busy and this is one way to be busy and be helpful at
the same time."
Ross Olson's Story and the Web Site
"I became a Theistic Evolutionist during my undergraduate and Medical school years at the University of Minnesota. It seemed that the case was closed, evolution was true and I would have to harmonize with it. While my wife and I were missionaries in Hong Kong in the late 1970's, my brother Bryan Olson, who is a Junior High Science Teacher sent me "Man's Origin, Man's Destiny" and "The Creation of Life" by A. E. Wilder-Smith. It took me a year to open it, because I was emotionally revolted by young earth creation which seemed to be so far from the scientific mainstream. But when I read it I was amazed and astounded by what I discovered. The author has three PhD's and is a brilliant biochemist. In his book, he simply pointed out that there is design in life which cannot be accounted for by chance. In fact, design always requires a designer and does not occur naturally.
On returning to Minneapolis for further training in Pediatrics in 1980, I questioned some of my professors about the data of design. One said, 'I'm not impressed with that argument.' But he could not answer it. Another said he knew where I was heading, I was going to talk about God and Jesus and he had no place for them in his life -- and besides, I could not talk about that on a public campus. This radicalized me. I realized that full professors with tenure at major universities could become totally foolish when reason lead them in a direction they did not like. See /articles/ross_olson_evolved.pdf for more details.
I became aware of Bible Science Association when A. E. Wilder-Smith spoke on campus at the University of Minnesota and began to meet members of TCCSA. I attended a Walter Brown meeting and began to come to The TCCSA meetings and also to bring young people, including several that I was mentoring. I found that it was energizing to those of weak faith and strong evidence for those who were seeking truth.
Fred Koestner had designed a beautiful Web Site for TCCSA in about November 1996 but did not always have time to keep it updated. In June 2000, fresh from 6 months of building my own Web Site (with help from my software engineer son, Jeff) I (Ross) offered my services. Fred enthusiastically accepted within milliseconds.
This, of course, involved more than I expected, but with the same enthusiasm I take to home improvement projects, I jumped in. The site was moved and took the domain name www.tccsa.tc (accessible also as tccsa.tc) which should be easy to remember. A Search Engine has been placed on the site so key words can be used to find specific information.
Since writing is my primary interest, I began filling cyberspace with words. The Calendar publicizes not only our own monthly meetings, but also information on other creation meetings within 150 miles of the Twin Cities. Old information is kept under Past Meetings for the sake of looking back. Adventure Safaris has posted material on their activities and resources for students. Detailed information for the Science Fair participants is available. We have collected and invited articles on an increasing number of topics, from our own members and other sources. The number of links to other Creation Sites has increased to over 100 which is a rich source of information on creation topics. We already had a large number of resources listed and these have been divided into books and videos. Reviews of books are also posted.
This history of TCCSA is being recorded and will continue to grow as more people submit their own parts of the story. Our Statement of Faith is available for all to see as well as the Creation Bulletins for the past year. Dan Nuckols Cartoons, which will some day be extremely valuable, are being viewed for the first time by the world right now. A beautiful Creation Animation with music can also be accessed from our site.
Letters that members write to the media, whether published or not, can be viewed on our site if submitted. A debate page was opened to allow interaction between creationists and friendly or unfriendly evolutionists or atheists. So far there have only been a few takers. I have no illusion that a hard-core opponent will change in response to a debate, but it sharpens us to interact and exposes the arguments of the other side to plain view, often showing their shallowness for open minded observers to see.
By February 2002 we were averaging about 80 separate visitors a day with bursts over 110. By September 2003, we are averaging about 200 unique visitors a day, each visiting 2 - 3 pages, and the total was up to 100,000 in the 4 years since its launching. The counter detects hits from overseas locations such as Singapore, England, Zambia, Paraguay and Armenia. There are visits from many university addresses and hits from Google and Yahoo search engines. We have had a few particularly hostile visitors but comments by many that they appreciate the site."
Other Board Members, contributors and speakers down through the years have been Jerry Roth, Jerry Michels, Jim Mosher and many others. Each have their own story of the way God opened their eyes to the truth and the importance of the case for creation.
In January, 2002, Bob Helfinstine stepped down after 5 years as President and Lyndon Griffin accepted the responsibility. Other Board Members at that time were: Byron Twiss, Treasurer; Al Heitkamp, Secretary; Bob Helfinstine, Vice Secretary; Gary Elsesser, Linda Gunderson, David Johnson, Bulletin Editor; Russ McGlenn, Adventure Safaris; Bill Overn and Ross Olson, Webmaster.
In May of 2002, Steven Macks joined as a student representative while a student at Northwestern College, the school that hosts our monthly meetings. He served for several years as a contact with the student body and resigned after he was no longer a student. In January 2003, Brent Fox and Don Olson joined the Board although Don was unable to continue for very long. Julie VonVett had been involved in the Science Fair for some time when she joined the Board in about March 2003 (and left the Board in April 2006). Home Schooler, Naomi Hard, joined in about June 2003.
Attendance over the years has nearly outgrown the capacity of Totino Fine Arts Center's Room 116 (or 115) and there have been occasional overflow when the crowds approach 200. September 16, 2003 celebrated 30 years since the organization was formed on a hot summer night in 1973. Bill Overn who was instrumental in forming TCCSA gave the address, "What God Hath Wrought: What Has Happened In The Past 30 Years Of Creation Ministry?" and many "old timers" were in attendance.
In March 2003 Lyndon Griffin resigned and in May Al Heitkamp accepted temporary presidency until the next elections in January 2004. At that time Dave Johnson was elected President, Julie Von Vett Secretary (to be replaced after her resignation in April 2006) and Byron Twiss was re-elected Treasurer. Three new new Board Members were appointed at the January Board Meeting: Bernard Bearth (who later found he was unable to continue), Lori Funderburk and Don Slinger. Even though the founders are still around and active, this marks a real transition of leadership from the Creation pioneers to the next generation -- those who benefit from the trail blazed by those who were there and involved from the beginning of the modern Creation movement.
Donald Slinger's Story
God was active in our everyday life as I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.
In fourth grade my teacher said that "we are all animals". This was confusing to me. I saw God working too frequently to not believe in Him, but I didn't have an answer to this "animals" statement.
As I studied at the University of Minnesota I was presented with many other evolutionary ideas. By the time I graduated with a BS in Wildlife Management I thoroughly believed in the evolutionary "evidence" presented, but also still knew God was real and saw Him working in my life.
Then, over a period of about three years, a co-worker challenged my evolutionary evidence through facts. Being a researcher at heart, this discussion was a great addition to "routine" work. I was forced to research and look deeply into the evidence for evolution and creation and over time most of my evolutionary foundations became disproved. I finally had in depth, scientific answers and they matched up with God's word.
During the succeeding 30+ years I have continued to study and share this information with others.
In 2003 I retired from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and now am able to give some time to TCCSA, in appreciation for all of the education they have provided in my life for the past 15 or so years.
Don has also taken up part of the responsibility for teaching the Adventure Safaris curricula to home school groups in Minnesota since Russ McGlenn transitioned to California in 2003.
Lori Funderburk's Story
I received my degree in Biological Science Education at a Christian university, but it did not equip me to understand, let alone teach the differences between the creation viewpoint and the evolution/Darwinian viewpoint. I found myself in the public schools having to teach things that directly conflicted with my own personal view, and didn't know enough of the scientific evidence on the creation side to dispute the "evidence" for evolution.
So I was taking the path of least resistance...just covering the text quickly without a lot of detail, raising a few questions (and eyebrows), and hoping my students would be peaked enough to run with it and do their own research. Of course, this wasn't happening and I realized I really needed to educate myself in the truth as well as the tactics of the "other side".
I found TCCSA via a web search, attended a few meetings, and met Russ McGlenn. Gave him my name and number to say if he ever needed assistance teaching, I'd be interested. 2 years later, I'm leaving public education to be a mom and get a call out of the blue from Russ. He's looking for teachers as he's moving to California. So, in God's perfect timing...here I am.
I love doing this because I continue to learn as I go. TCCSA has been an excellent resource of experts and "where to find it" information. I didn't realize there were so many books, websites, educators, and scientists that believed as I did AND had proof to back it up. I'm very thankful to have found TCCSA.
Naomi Hard's Story
As one of three children in our family, raised in rural New Jersey, my father encouraged my brothers and me to explore and marvel at God's creation. My dad, an electrical engineer by training, provided opportunities for us to discover God's world in a hands-on way. He made a steam engine from spare parts, he brought us outside on cold, clear winter nights to view Saturn's rings, Jupiter's moons, nebulae, and many constellations through our reflecting telescope. He led family camping trips to sites which proved to be excellent learning laboratories of what God has made and done. Through him I became excited about finding fossils and petrified wood.
Now I have two sons and a daughter of my own. It is my chance to pass on to the next generation the truth that the world around us displays the majesty and wonder of our Creator God. Our family has attended the Adventure Safaris Dinosaur Dig in South Dakota for the past four summers. I supply my children with written resources and opportunities, such as TCCSA lectures, to increase their understanding and commitment to creation science issues.
As a TCCSA board member, one of my highest priorities is to encourage parents to be intentional in training their children to think like creation scientists and have the tools to be confident in this mindset. I personally hope that participation in the Creation Science Student Writing Contest will steadily increase yearly as a sign that the next generation is being properly trained to know, understand and intelligently communicate the truth that our God is the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Naomi conceived of and spearheaded the writing contest, beginning in 2004. That contest now takes its place alongside the science fair as another opportunity for students to hone their skills in presting the case for creation to those who have not heard.
Mark Fleming's Story
From 2006 to 2008, Mark Fleming served the Board as a student member. Mark was born to missionary parents shortly after they returned from Africa. He was an active student leader in his high school youth group, and member of the Sunday morning worship team at First Evangelical Free Church, where his family shares long standing ties with the Olsons, and Ross in particular (who was his pediatrician at a young age, and brought him faithfully to TCCSA meetings while he was too young to drive on his own). Mark also held several positions in student government throughout his high school career, as well as being very active in school theater and choir. He expressed his love for sharing the Message of Christ with kids, at Camp Shamineau (The Evangelical Free Church Denominational Camp). When submitting his resignation from the Board in October 2008, he wrote, "I am absolutely as committed as ever to the cause and purpose of the organization, but simply do not have the time to offer toward the furtherance of the vision. Apparently being a full time student (Theater major) with an 18 credit course load, serving as a Junior Class Senator on Northwestern Student Government, working a part time job for Admissions, and being selected as one of 3 students out of the entire NWC student body to write and direct my own 10 minute play is a larger commitment than expected. It is all good, but is a re-structuring of my priorities.
Brent and Elisabeth Fox's Story
Brent started attending TCCSA meetings after meeting Dave Johnson's brother, Howard, in 2002. By January of 2003, Brent was invited to join as a member of the Board. It was in the fall of 2004 that he first brought his "friend" Beth to the public meetings and by the spring of 2006 she had accepted that there was no choice but to marry Brent and join the TCCSA Board herself. They served together as judges for the annual Creation Science Fairs and finally had to end their service as board members in the summer of 2008.
Many others have contributed to this organization, but more importantly have contributed to its task of presenting the evidence for creation to both friend and foe. Christians who may not realize how strong the case for creation really is have been strengthened and encouraged. Many who have felt obligated to surrender part of the authority of Scripture to current scientific opinion because of the perceived strength of the case for long ages have been able to return the first 10 or 11 chapters of Genesis to the realm of history and prevent the inevitable slide from orthodoxy that follows from taking a red pencil to God's Word.
Work in progress, August 2010 version
Recorded by Ross Olson from multiple sources.