“In so many ways, my wife Mally and I can give testimony after wonderful testimony as to how the Lord called us into the creation ministry in Australia—and how He has blessed us all along the way (including the many years we have now spent in America). God’s providence was especially seen during the pioneering days of the late 1970s in Australia, when He provided for our needs time and time again (e.g., friends and family helping us with groceries and other things during the lean first months).
“It’s been a wonderful 27 years of full-time creation ministry. I hope this brief history will encourage you as you read how God has mightily blessed the proclamation of the creation/Gospel message.”
Ken Ham left a position as a public school science teacher in Queensland, Australia in 1979 after being engaged in part-time creation speaking for three years (primarily on weekends).1 At a special service at his church, Sunnybank Baptist in Brisbane, the pastor and deacons laid hands on Ken and Mally to set them apart to the work of what Ken was to eventually call the “Creation Science Foundation” (cofounded by John Mackay).
Before the ministry was to change its name to CSF, it was run in two parts: a book ministry called “Creation Science Supplies” and a teaching ministry entitled “Creation Science Educational Media Services.” These two outreaches were based in the home of Ken and Mally (who personally borrowed money to build extensions on their home). When he resigned from his teaching position in 1979, Ken used a small retirement payment to buy the ministry’s first photocopier and electric typewriter. To this day, Ken praises the Lord for Mally and the great sacrifices she made back then (and over the subsequent 27 years); indeed, for the first few years of the ministry in Australia, they had no salary and relied on personal gifts from family members and friends.
Even with such a humble beginning, the ministry had a dream—but it was one that took over 25 years to accomplish. Ken, along with a businessman friend (who would later become a board member), prayed about building a Creation Museum. Little did they know then that their dream was to be transported across the Pacific Ocean and eventually realized in America in 2007.
After establishing the Australian ministry and conducting a few teaching tours in the U.S. sponsored by Master Books of California (now based in Arkansas), Ken and Mally (and their five children) temporarily moved to Arizona for six months in 1986 to work with Films For Christ. This partnership resulted in about 100 speaking and radio/TV engagements, as well as the production of the well-known Genesis Solution film (which was nominated as “Best Documentary” by the Christian Film Distributors Association).
In 1986, the Australian board of CSF believed that Mally and Ken had a calling from the Lord to move to the United States. Ken was loaned as a speaker to Dr. Henry Morris’s Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in California to help popularize ICR’s creation message around America. Just before the Hams were to move across the Pacific, they were again set apart for a missionary venture (this time to be overseas) at a special service at their home church. Ever since, Ken has called himself a “missionary from Australia to America.” The Hams moved to the U.S. on January 22, 1987. He remained a director, however, of the CSF ministry in Australia (until 2004).
On February 18, 1987, Ken received a phone call informing him of a major leadership problem back home at CSF. It meant either returning home or finding someone else to hold things together and help lead the ministry. CSF scientist Dr. Andrew Snelling (who started and produced the ministry’s Technical Journal in 1984) was appointed as the temporary manager of the ministry, and capably oversaw CSF for a few months; then Dr. Carl Wieland (editor/founder of Creation magazine, which he had handed over to CSF in 1979 after the first two issues) was convinced to join CSF in September 1987 to take over from Dr. Snelling and lead the organization on a permanent basis.
While working at ICR in California, Ken was persuaded by CSF’s founding chairman, Professor John Rendle-Short, to travel with him to the United Kingdom. Professor Rendle-Short had a burden for the church in his homeland, and he believed a creation ministry could help equip the church in the UK to defend the Christian faith.
After a speaking tour of the UK and seeing the great need for the creation/gospel message, Ken was soon burdened for this nation as well. Professor Rendle-Short met a man in England, Mr. Graham Scott, who was very willing to get involved, and a relationship began to build an affiliated creation ministry in the UK. Ken and the other CSF–Australia leaders agreed to produce newsletters, keep a database of names/addresses, and oversee Creation magazine subscriptions for the UK ministry. ICR graciously allowed Ken to go on speaking tours in the UK as part of establishing a CSF mission in the UK.
For many years, Ken tried to have ICR and others distribute Creation magazine in the United States, but for many reasons, this was not possible. Therefore, Ken and Mally began a U.S. company to distribute the magazine themselves, primarily using volunteers (but eventually having to hire their next-door neighbors and then a full-time secretary).
In 1993, after being “on loan” to ICR for seven years and seeing a fruitful ministry in conducting ICR family teaching conferences across America, Ken was broached by Mally with the idea of starting a new creation organization—one that would be more layperson-oriented than ICR (which was, by its name, a much-needed research group and also had a graduate school of science, for example).
At about this time, Ken and Mally were visited by Wyoming pastor Don Landis and his wife, Beverly. Pastor Landis suggested that it was time for the “loan” to ICR to conclude and to begin a new U.S. ministry. Ken discussed this possibility with various family members in Australia (particularly with his now-late brother Robert) and staff at the CSF headquarters (Dr. Wieland, general manager, Paul Salmon, and others).
In late 1993, Ken made the decision to resign from ICR. Two ICR colleagues, Mark Looy and Mike Zovath, also decided to join Ken, and the three founded a new organization that was initially called “Creation Science Ministries.” One of the first donors was Dr. Morris, who also wrote a gracious letter of introduction for the new ministry. Carl Kerby (an air-traffic controller at the time) and Dan Manthei (a businessman), as well as Ken, Mark, and Mike, became the first board members.
The assets of the corporation Mally and Ken had set up for Creation magazine (including the subscriber list of around 2,000 names, most of whom were obtained by Ken at ICR seminars—ICR was kind enough to allow him to promote the magazine at these venues) were transferred to the new CSM ministry. Next, Master Books graciously loaned its mailing list (over 100,000 names) to CSM for the mailing of an introductory brochure (which also requested start-up donations) to be sent throughout the country.
Meanwhile, a Michigan family helped “kick-start” CSM with a significant five-figure donation, and CSF–Australia offered to be a “safety net” to loan CSM funds if it was needed (but that was never necessary and thus no CSF money was used). The U.S. ministry was started as autonomous (but with a “sisterly” relationship with the Australian organization) and stood on its own two feet financially from the very beginning. Through a number of well-attended seminars in cities like Denver and Phoenix, and the growing faithful support from donors, the U.S. ministry was launched in good financial shape in early 1994 (and, praise God, has maintained a sound financial footing).
Other godly men (including Pastor Landis) were approached about being on the U.S. board and thus be the authority to which all staff (including CEO Ken Ham) would be accountable. Ken Ham, cofounder of the Australian ministry, remained on the Australian CSF board.
To maintain a close association, some board members on the Australian ministry continued to be appointed to the U.S. board, and some U.S. board members continued to be appointed to the Australian ministry. In addition, the American ministry aided the Australian group with annual (sometimes more) speaking tours called “Down Under Tours” In addition, AiG–Australia would occasionally send its speakers to the U.S.
In its first year of ministry (1994), CSM–U.S. sought nonprofit status through the IRS. This accountability meant that donors could give their donations to AiG with confidence (and also receive a receipt for tax purposes). In addition, the ministry (now known as Answers in Genesis–U.S.) continues to be a member in good standing with the financial watchdog group “The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability” (ECFA), which reviews AiG financial records each year. (Also, in 2005–2007, AiG–U.S.—out of thousands of ministries—was named one of the “30 shining lights” by MinistryWatch.com, another respected financial watchdog of nonprofit ministries.)
In March 1994, Ken’s family moved from southern California to northern Kentucky to start up the new headquarters, and Mark’s and Mike’s families followed. They established operation in rented offices in Florence, Kentucky (about 14 miles south of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from I-75). The Cincinnati-area location was chosen because almost 2/3 of America’s population lives within 650 miles, and since a future Creation Museum was planned, this strategic location was very important in determining where to be situated.
AiG’s first major conference was held in March 1994 in Denver, Colorado, where 2,200 adults and over 4,000 students attended. The first ministry newsletter was mailed out in March as well. The Answers ... with Ken Ham radio program began airing on 45 stations in October of 1994. Indeed, AiG’s first year was marvelously blessed by God. In fact, by early December 1994, over 85,500 people had been reached at teaching events, and 142 radio stations were carrying the new radio feature.
That same year, a meeting was held with the new board in Wyoming. It was at that meeting that the board decided to change the organization’s name to “Answers in Genesis,” to reflect the fact that the ministry was not just about “creation,” but the authority of all of Scripture—as well as about evangelism and equipping believers to build a biblical worldview. Some time later, CSF–Australia followed the U.S. lead and changed its name to Answers in Genesis.
Ken Ham (along with colleague Mike Zovath) continued their travels to the UK each year to conduct teaching meetings, working closely with Mr. Scott there. Eventually, as Mr. Scott was considering retiring, Dr. Monty White of the University of Cardiff (Wales) was asked by Ken and Mike to lead the UK ministry. The U.S. board agreed to act as a safety net for this new phase of growth in case the UK ministry needed help. The UK ministry today is self-supporting and self-funding, and is still led by Dr. White.
In the early years of the U.S. ministry, Carl Kerby (in 1995) designed and launched the AiG website as a founding member and content contributor to www.ChristianAnswers.net. Soon, the sister groups in the UK and Australia wanted to have home pages on the U.S.-managed website, so the U.S. site became the website for all sister ministries. AiG–U.S. hired the necessary staff to oversee all aspects of the website, including maintaining the home pages of the other AiGs (at no cost, even though the expense was growing substantially each year). AiG–Australia in particular provided web articles from Creation magazine, as well as “feedback” articles written by its staff and articles on “hot” topics (these constituted almost half the site’s content by 2006). In turn, AiG–Australia used articles from the newsletters and other writings of the U.S. ministry, as well as thousands of resource descriptions and video/audio streams created by the U.S. ministry.
In the mid-1990s, AiG was searching for land in northern Kentucky upon which to build a Creation Museum and new headquarters for its rapidly growing speaking ministry, radio program, and web outreach. The ministry was constantly in the local news due to strident opposition from evolutionists/secular humanists and others opposed to the two land rezoning efforts. The controversy soon made national and even international headlines (e.g., The Times of London). Opposition to the museum project had one local newspaper reader (who did not know AiG very well) so concerned about the way AiG was being attacked that his family gave a $1 million museum gift.
During this decade, AiG–U.S. saw hundreds of new radio stations carrying the Answers radio program, a huge boost in visits to the AiG website (now averaging around 25,000 visits a day), and several hundred requests each year to conduct teaching meetings. In 2006, the www.AnswersInGenesis.org website received the prestigious “Website of the year” award from the National Religious Broadcasters, a group of 1,300 ministries (including most of the large Christian groups in America). In the previous year, Answers was nominated as NRB’s best radio teaching program.
By 2004, AiG had grown to nearly 100 staff working out of four rented offices in northern Kentucky. In September, the entire staff was thankful to move into one building (next to the Creation Museum under construction), on 50 beautiful acres along I-275, just west of the Cincinnati Airport (in a building that AiG now owned).
At the same time, differences in philosophy and operation were becoming more apparent between the U.S. ministry and AiG–Australia (which were two separate, autonomous organizations with separate boards—yet had a common statement of faith). For example, the U.S. ministry had a decentralized leadership structure (i.e., where a “leadership team” runs the ministry’s day-to-day operation, with only general oversight by the president, Ken Ham). This was a different approach than that employed by the Australian organization.
As differences involving organizational and philosophical issues grew, the two boards met on many occasions to try to deal with these matters. Meanwhile, the Australian board met with its own CEO and senior staff numerous times about these matters.
Eventually, it was realized that the issues between the two leadership teams could not be resolved, and so it was mutually decided by both boards in 2005 that AiG–U.S. and AiG–Australia (now called CMI) had to totally separate and instead move on to have a formal, business relationship (yet to work cooperatively on joint projects). In October 2005, the Australian board cordially met with the U.S. board in northern Kentucky to work out the formal arrangements.
It should be noted that differences between ministries were not over doctrinal issues (or even any scientific controversy regarding the book of Genesis). It stemmed not only from a difference of how ministry activities would be conducted, but also (among other things) where both ministries believed the Lord was leading them. For its part AiG–U.S., for example, had just devoted two years to prayerfully and carefully develop a 10-year strategic plan to help it become even more effective in proclaiming the creation/gospel message throughout the world. AiG–U.S. realized that its particular strategies were not embraced by CMI/AiG–Australia, and that differences of ministry philosophy were likely only to widen.
In early 2006, a donation of $50,000 from a California family broke the $20,000,000 mark in donations for the $27 million, 60,000 sq. ft. Creation Museum as AiG looked forward to a 2007 opening.2
The teaching ministry continued its dramatic growth. In 2006, over 300 events in various cities were held (a single visit to one city might see up to six different speaking opportunities at an “event”—in front of six different audiences).
The award-winning AiG website was shown on some rankings to be visited by nearly as many people as Focus on the Family and other leading ministries. In other media, the Answers radio program was being carried by about 800 U.S. stations and hundreds more overseas, and AiG spokespersons were regularly appearing in the secular and Christian media (e.g., CBS News, NBC Nightly News, The PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, CNN, BBC, Times of London, etc.), a trend that escalated as the museum opening drew nearer.
Another major development in the ministry was occurring in 2006. The U.S. organization had expressed a concern about the renewal rate for subscribers to Creation magazine (more than 50% did not renew after one year). AiG–U.S. therefore conducted a statistically valid, scientific survey of its subscribers. The results indicated that a new magazine was needed, one which would emphasize the biblical worldview, would have widespread practical application, and would feature biblical and scientific articles on the origins issue.
While the intent was to offer both the Australian-published Creation magazine and the new U.S.-published Answers magazine (sometime in 2008) as two options for its subscribers, irreconcilable differences arose concerning the printing and distribution of Creation magazine in the United States. AiG–U.S. as a result had to modify its strategic plan to offer just the new Answers magazine, rolling it out two years ahead of schedule. While this regretfully meant that Creation would no longer be distributed through AiG–U.S., the prospect of continuing subscriptions through the provision of a brand-new, culturally relevant, apologetics-based periodical (with an enhanced worldview emphasis) was exciting. AiG–U.S. was also very encouraged to learn of the excitement generated about the new magazine as expressed by overwhelmingly positive feedback from its subscribers.
With the launch of a new magazine and the opening of the Creation Museum before the summer of 2007, AiG–U.S. was looking forward to additional new opportunities, while remaining committed to the same strong authoritative Biblical teaching and scientific credibility the ministry has always maintained.
After the appointment of a new board in Australia in late 2005 and the establishment of a new direction there (including a name change to CMI), AiG–U.S., being autonomous, decided to institute a more formal business relationship with CMI.
Meanwhile, the eight-person leadership team of AiG–U.S. (including the CEO/president) has received the full, unqualified support of the U.S. board of directors, and has been complimented by the board for the vision, leadership, and performance of the fast-growing ministry.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the ministry’s relatively young life was the opening of the Creation Museum on May 28, attracting over 4,000 people (and about 60 protestors). On May 26 a private ribbon-cutting ceremony had been held; over 100 credentialed media attended either that day or at the public opening two days later. During this time, Ken Ham was interviewed on FOX–TV’s The O’Reilly Factor and FOX and Friends in the morning, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, ABC-TV’s Good Morning America (which did a live broadcast remote at the museum), and several dozen other outlets. In addition to the many British and Australian correspondents who came to the museum in its opening weeks, multiple media representatives from countries like Switzerland and Japan toured the museum and filed stories. Major stories eventually appeared in all of America’s leading newspapers, each of them highlighting the high-tech nature of the center (from its state-of-the-art planetarium, to its SFX Theater and animatronics).
Watch a 2-minute video highlighting the ribbon-cutting ceremony here.
With many Saturdays in 2007 seeing guests numbering 3,000-4,000, the museum had its 250,000 visitor come through in early November (almost seven months ahead of projections).
With the opening of the museum and the launching of a new magazine, AiG–U.S. was looking forward to additional new opportunities, while remaining committed to the same strong authoritative biblical teaching and scientific credibility the ministry has always maintained.
By the end of 2007 God has blessed AiG–U.S. with over 275 staff (including new museum staff brought on for the museum opening), and over 295,000 museum guests in the first seven months of operation. The Answers radio program is now heard on 900 U.S. stations, and the AiG website continues to be one of the most-visited religious websites in the world (on one day alone in 2007, there were almost 100,000 visitors and 343,000 page views in a 24-hour period—a phenomenal amount of web traffic).
AiG has now become the world’s largest apologetics organization. Also, as was mentioned earlier, the AiG “sister” ministry based in Leicester, England, continues to have an impact in Europe—it is often profiled in the major media (e.g., BBC–TV/Radio) and conducts teaching meetings throughout western and eastern Europe.
As AiG-U.S.’s board members look to the future, they are considering many new or expanded Bible-proclaiming outreaches, including in the much-needed areas of curriculum development and international translation programs. In late 2007, AiG was extremely happy to learn that for the third year in a row, it was picked as one of the 30 “Shining light” ministries by MinistryWatch.com—these are the top 30 U.S. ministries that donors can give to in confidence for they “exemplify outstanding financial stewardship as well as a strong and positive ministry impact.”
The U.S. board, recognizing that AiG was largely dependent on the name recognition of its president in the first years of the ministry to help AiG get kick-started, is pleased today to see that the museum, popular website, expanding curriculum department, several new speakers, etc., are making AiG less dependent on Ken Ham to grow the ministry (thus leaving Ken with more time to work closely with the board in strategizing how AiG’s vision can be taken into new areas, as God gives the opportunities).
As AiG looks back at fourteen years of wonderful, fruitful ministry, we can say: “To God be the glory, great things He has done!”
Packed with biblical answers to over 25 of the most important questions on creation/evolution and the Bible, The NEW Answers Book is a must-read for everyone who desires to better understand the world in which they live.