CREATION DOCUMENTARY IMPACTS AUDIENCES AROUND IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND
17th May 2018
Seventh-day Adventist churches around the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland hosted public screenings of the investigative documentary, “Is Genesis History?” in the month of April. It was the first time that this acclaimed movie, which presents a scientific case for the belief in a young earth creation was screened outside the United States of America.
Several congregations were able to secure theatre spaces in which to show the movie. On Saturday night 28 April, one of these venues, the Backstage Theatre in Longford filled up with church members and several people from the local community. “Three supporters of the Pro-Life Campaign for the upcoming referendum came along,” reports local organiser, pastor Tony O’Rourke. “They stood up at the end of the meeting and stated that they were very blessed to see a group who still hold to Christian moral standards and who stand for the truth.” It was their first encounter with the Seventh-day Adventist church and its beliefs.
On the same afternoon, a screening was held in the intimate environment of the Nerve Centre Cinema in Derry Londonderry. Twenty-three of the forty-five seats in the theatre were filled. Ten of these were filled by people who were not from the local Adventist church. The Nerve centre event was supported by several Christian churches from the local area, including a local Presbyterian minister. An Ulster Unionist councillor from the nearby Causeway Coast and Glens Council also drove 40 miles to attend the event after seeing it advertised on social media.
The Irish Mission pastoral team had worked together for more than six months to plan this Mission-wide initiative. “We heard about the positive reception that the documentary received in America,” says pastor Adam Keough, “and we wondered how difficult it would be to acquire permission to show the movie in Ireland. When we made contact, the producers of the film were very excited to hear about us. They immediately granted us a license to publicly show the production around Ireland and the United Kingdom at any time in 2018. We realised that this was a great privilege and the whole pastoral team agreed to devote their resources and energy to maximise the impact of the movie.” In preparation for the public screening, pastors and several interested church members attended a day-long refresher course on issues in the creation-evolution debate. A website was set-up for the event that managed bookings for all the venues. Each venue followed an advertising strategy that was suited for the area. These included advertising on social media, banners, leaflets and letters to churches and friends of the Church.
The screenings took place over a period of 8 days between 21 April and 28 April. When the reports were collated from the ten venues, it emerged that more than 450 people had attended the screenings. 98 of the attendees were not connected to the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Pastor Christian Salcianu reports that four ladies arrived at the screening in Tallaght. The screening was organised by the Romanian congregation. Many of the church members had brought friends. The congregation did not expect much interest outside the context of the Romanian congregation, but these four Dublin ladies had seen advertisements on the ticketing website. After the movie they were very enthusiastic about what they had seen. Pastor Salcianu reports, “They asked for a brochure about the Seventh-day Adventist church. I was quite surprised about their interest!” He explains, “My experience with Dublin is that it is an exceptionally secular culture, but there seems to be an interest in the truth of Creation, even in a community like Tallaght.”
“We had over 40 people attend with 5 non-Adventists,” reports pastor Lorance Johnson from Cork. We later discovered that one was a Doctor of Science. After the showing, I facilitated a time for feedback on the documentary. People freely shared their thoughts and what impacted them. One of the visitors commented that he believes that science should complement biblical history. However, he felt that the scope of the documentary was too wide and should be narrowed down to focus on a couple of areas. Speaking to him at the end of the showing, he invited me to visit him at home.”
The movie features, Del Tackett a well know personality in American evangelical circles, interviewing a dozen scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines about the evidence for a young earth creation. Together the findings of these academics build a strong case for a viable alternative to evolutionary theory to understand the origins of the universe and life on earth. While the material is scientific and technical it is accessible to a general audience. Most viewers commented that they would like to watch the movie again to revisit and internalise the material that is presented. Some of the venues (Belfast and Donard, Wicklow) anticipated this desire and printed a booklet, “A Useful Little Guide to the Film” which contained short summaries of the main arguments in the movie.
Venues in Cork, Dublin Ranelagh, Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Longford, Donard, Belfast, Banbridge, Larne, and Coleraine all reported the positive feedback that they received. People who attended at each venue were keen to sign up for follow-up events. In Ranelagh the church had prepared a special GDPR-compliant sign-up form. There was significant interest in watching some of the follow-up videos that had been produced by the “Is Genesis History Team.” “One of the visitors that attended, added me as a friend on Facebook,” reported pastor Curtis Samuel from Banbridge, where the movie was shown on the largest screen of the Iveagh Cinema in town. “The quality of the footage in the movie definitely deserves a big screen treatment,” he mused.
Reflecting on the project, pastor Dan Serb, president of the Seventh-day Adventist church in the region says, “We found that the screening of a movie on Creation is in line with the core theology of our church where God is the Creator, Redeemer and Fulfiller of our destiny of salvation. The message is also deeply ingrained in the Three Angel’s message of Revelation 14, calling people to worship a Creator God.”
He continues, “We are honoured to have been given the opportunity to share this resource with the Christian community in Ireland and Northern Ireland. We believe that we have made a meaningful contribution to advance the argument for a young earth creation. We are delighted that the churches have all reported on promising opportunities for building relationships with those who have an interest in this topic.”
Each of the ten venues that hosted the movie have plans to follow up on this programme with a continued focus on the biblical view of Creation. The license for screening additional materials created by the “Is Genesis History?” project, extends for the whole year. The events will be informative and educational, and they also provide opportunity to strengthen relationships with everybody who has a similar interest on this relevant topic.
[Irish Mission Communication]