Ridgecrest Marks One Hundred Years

About 180 ministry and community leaders attended LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center's centennial luncheon March 6 to commemorate its 100th anniversary.

Speakers recalled the many ways God had worked in people's lives at Ridgecrest during the past century while voicing anticipation of things yet to come at the conference center located just outside Black Mountain, North Carolina, near Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Black Mountain Mayor Carl Bartlett, who attended Vacation Bible School at Ridgecrest in 1948, brought greetings on behalf of the city and read a proclamation recognizing Ridgecrest for one hundred years of service. The governor of North Carolina, mayor of Asheville, and Buncombe County commissioners also issued proclamations.

"Ridgecrest has been called a mountain of faith," Bill Bowman, general manager of LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, said as he listed the center's challenges in its early years, which included a fire, two floods, and a series of financial crises.

Bowman recounted how in the late 19th century B.W. Spilman dreamed of establishing a place for Southern Baptists to meet and learn how to teach the Bible to the multitudes. "It was his faith in God and His purposes for Ridgecrest that kept Spilman going," Bowman said.

Jack Epps, who worked as a summer staffer in the 1930s as a college student and then returned forty years later, after retiring, to spend another twenty-six years as a volunteer, gave greetings from Florida via video. "You come join us as a volunteer — there's no better place to work," said Epps, who plans to return to Ridgecrest this summer for his 27th year as a volunteer and celebrate his 90th birthday there.

Epps was followed by twenty-five-year-old John Mark Woodard, who served as assistant director for summer staff the past two years. "Things happen here that can't happen anyplace else. God is actively working here," Woodard said, noting that despite their age differences, "Christ's Spirit connects Jack and me."

Byron Hill, executive director of LifeWay Conference Centers and Camps, discussed recent upgrades and new construction at Ridgecrest and plans for a new convention center with an 8,400-square-foot ballroom/exhibit space.

When the renovation plans are completed, "every building on campus will be new or made to look like new," Hill said.

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, cited Psalm 78 in which God reminds Israel of what He has done and will continue to do for them.

"I want us to remember the past, the place, and the plan," Rainer said. "The past has been a story of tremendous blessing … and of changed lives. Never let us forget the past and what God has done.

"God reminds us throughout Scripture to remember the place," Rainer continued. "Ridgecrest is God's place, and it can never be replaced in terms of all that has happened here.

"God has a plan for even greater days and more lives to be changed," he concluded.

Mike Arrington, vice president of LifeWay Capital Resource Development, was the final speaker. "We serve a hurting world and can be a shining light," Arrington said. "What God has done in the last one hundred years in the lives of three million people is a great and awesome thing."



Creation Care

When Former Vice President Al Gore won an Academy Award for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth in February, a key assertion in his film on global warming — that human-induced climate change will cause a rise in sea levels of some twenty feet in the near future — had already been refuted by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The panel, which issued its fourth summary of warming trends for policymakers February 2 after a meeting of scientists in Paris, claimed that sea levels could rise eight to seventeen inches over the next century as a result of the human impact on the climate. That figure is 30 percent less than predicted in 2001 and about 2,000 percent less than Gore's prediction.

Gore is at least partly right in his call for "creation care," according to Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Human beings, Land said, have a responsibility to care for the planet, including cutting pollution in the atmosphere.

But the larger questions of global warming, such as whether it is a natural or manmade phenomenon, are far from settled, Land said. Recent scientific studies have attributed warming to solar flares, cloud density and formation, and even to methane emitted from livestock herds. A study published in Science magazine in early February and confirmed by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) also revealed that Greenland's glaciers — once rapidly melting — have reversed their losses and increased in thickness. The loss of Greenland's glaciers was one evidence of catastrophic global warming, Gore said in his film.



FamilyNet Radio Good Friday Specials
Examining Errant Claims Regarding the Trial and Resurrection of Jesus

Controversial programs such as The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which was scheduled to be aired on the Discovery Channel, have focused attention on the claims of Jesus Christ and the credibility of his resurrection. FamilyNet Radio on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 161) will examine these issues in two specials set to air on Good Friday, April 6, at 7 and 7:30 a.m. (Eastern): The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ and Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: Proof of the Resurrection.

The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ scrutinizes the trial of Jesus Christ, described by program host Randy Singer as "the greatest miscarriage of justice in history." Singer adds, "I will examine the trumped up charges again Him [Jesus], His accusers, and the numerous violations of Jewish and Roman law that occurred during the process." He concludes by saying, "I will also show how Christ had already answered all of His critics but for some reason, with His life on the line, chose to remain silent. To understand why is to understand the greatest redemptive act in history."

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: Proof of the Resurrection will air at 7:30 a.m. on April 6. Also hosted by Randy Singer, this radio special will examine evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, using the kind of exacting standards applied every day in court. Singer explains, "I will also look at alternative theories for what happened and show the weaknesses of each."

Program host Randy Singer is exceptionally qualified to address the topics in the two radio specials. An experienced trial lawyer, Singer is a graduate of the William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. As head of the trial section for the Willcox and Savage law firm in Norfolk, Virginia, he tried numerous cases in federal and state courts.

In recent years, he has served as a law professor for the Regent University Law School in Virginia Beach and as Chief Counsel for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the fall of 2006, Singer hosted a weekly FamilyNet Radio program entitled Cross Examination. Each program addressed a controversial legal issue from a Christian perspective and included an interactive call-in segment.

Singer also serves on the board of the Christian Legal Society and is a legal advisor for the American Center for Law and Justice, a public service law firm that defends religious freedom in the United States and abroad. He is also a prolific writer of legal thrillers, winning the Christy Award in 2003 for the best Christian suspense novel.

FamilyNet Radio airs call-in shows with leading evangelical talk personalities, preaching from the nation's top pastors, and other family friendly programs. Included in the channel line up are such programming as Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson, Jay Sekulow Live!, Hope for the Heart with June Hunt, and Way of the Master with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, FamilyNet also operates a full-time television network. For more information on FamilyNet Radio and Television, visit the Web site at www.FamilyNet.com or call (800) 832-6638.

SIRIUS Satellite Radio delivers more than 120 channels of commercial-free music, compelling talk shows, news and information, and the most extensive sports programming in digital quality sound to over six million subscribers across the United States and Canada.



Another Major Abortion Clinic Closes

Another abortion clinic has been forced to close its doors, this time a New Jersey center that performs more than ten thousand abortions a year.

The state Department of Health took the action following an inquiry prompted by the severe medical complications experienced by a twenty-year-old woman who had undergone an abortion at Metropolitan Medical Associates (MMA) in Englewood, New Jersey, according to The Bergen Record.

Rasheedah Dinkins, who has two children, suffered massive hemorrhaging after undergoing an abortion January 27. She received a twenty-unit blood transfusion at a hospital and suffered a stroke. Doctors also removed her uterus. She was placed on a respirator but came out of her coma February 23, according to The Record.

The state's investigation, initiated by a complaint filed by the hospital, prompted the Department of Health to close the center after it found violations that caused serious threats to patients. The department cited infection control as one of the concerns, The Record reported. The clinic will not reopen until the problems have been addressed, according to the health department.

"I think it's horrible what I had to go through," Dinkins told the Associated Press. In retrospect, she added, "I probably wouldn't have made this choice."

Dinkins has filed a lawsuit against MMA and its doctors.

In 1993, a twenty-year-old college student died hours after having an abortion at MMA, according to The Record. The county medical examiner ruled her death was accidental, the newspaper reported.

Since Dinkins' ordeal became public knowledge, two other women have come forward to report their health problems after undergoing procedures at MMA.

Christina Ruvolo, 23, told The Record she began to hemorrhage five weeks after an abortion in May. Doctors at a nearby hospital treated her and told her part of the child's body was still inside her, according to the newspaper.

Gloria Mozas, 36, said she went to MMA in October 2003 to get a pregnancy test and an ultrasound. Doctors told her she had already had a miscarriage, when in fact she had an ectopic pregnancy. She suffered a rupture and internal bleeding days later, she told The Record.

"A zoo is better than this place," Mozas said, according to the newspaper. "I'm asking the state; I'm asking the governor; I'm asking whoever it takes to never open these doors again."

MMA's more than ten thousand abortions a year ranks it ahead of twenty-three of the country's fifty states in annual number of abortions, according to 2000 statistics collected by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.



The Cross Returns to the College of William & Mary (sort of)

The two-foot-high brass cross at the center of a months-old controversy at the College of William and Mary will be permanently on display in a glass case in historic Wren Chapel as a compromise between the school's president and his critics.

"The case shall be located in a prominent, readily visible place, accompanied by a plaque explaining the college's Anglican roots and its historic connection to Bruton Parish Church [a local Episcopal congregation]," a committee appointed to study the matter recommended March 6. "The Wren sacristy shall be available to house sacred objects of any religious tradition for use in worship and devotion by members of the college community."

A donor had withdrawn a pledge valued at between $10 million and $12 million to the nation's second-oldest college because of the president's decision last October to remove the cross from the chapel.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported March 1 that James W. McGlothlin, a former member of William & Mary's board of visitors, revoked his pledge in protest of what he called an "unbelievable" move by college president Gene R. Nichol.

A spokesman for the college told the Times-Dispatch he was not yet aware whether the pledge would be reinstated in light of the compromise.

Wren Chapel opened in 1732 and was used for mandatory morning and evening daily prayer on the Williamsburg, Virginia, campus at the time. But Nichol determined that the presence of the cross made some students, faculty, and staff who do not support Christianity feel unwelcome in the chapel for the building's modern uses.

Nichol ordered the cross, which was installed in 1940, removed, and in December he agreed to let it appear each Sunday in response to outcries from alumni and others who support the school's Christian heritage.

After news of the withdrawn pledge surfaced, Nichol wrote an editorial piece for the Times-Dispatch March 1. He said he would not back down, lest the college lose prospective students to more secular institutions.

"Is it acceptable, as an aspiring public university, to open our doors less fully to some because of their religious affiliations? As strongly as we value our own beliefs, will we make others less welcome because of their own?" Nichol wrote.

More than 17,500 people signed an online petition organized by the group "Save the Wren Cross" asking Nichol to reverse his cross removal order, compared to just two thousand who supported the removal of the cross.

The Times-Dispatch reported that the study committee would continue meeting to consider the broader question of the role of religion at William and Mary.

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