1984 ICS Niagara Conference
Perspective Report by kathy vanderkloet
Each summer the ICS sponsors four family conferences across Canada. Head office organizes the Ontario conference, ICS Western Representative Nick Loenen works with a committee to put together the Southern B. C. program, and members and supporters join forces to organize gatherings in B.C.'s Bulkley Valley and in Central Alberta. These conferences are annual high points both for ICS staff and for the hundreds of people who attend. The following reports will give you a bit of an idea of what was said and done. But, of course, there's nothing like being there. So next year, see you there' (If it's too far to go to one of the established ones, how about starting a new tradition in your area?)
The flagship Ontario family Conference has always relied on volunteers to help make it run smoothly, but this year the presence of such volunteers extended to the planning and organizing committee as well, as Aukje Masselink and Nick Terpstra joined ICS staffers bob vander vennen and Aileen Van Ginkel in preparing for the 1984 conference. Thanks to their careful and thorough preparations, the largest-ever ICS summer conference came off without a hitch.
The theme “Joy in Living' was presented by Gordon Spykman, professor of religion and theology at Calvin College, in a keynote address entitled, “Joy is (often) a well-disguised blessing” This was the prism through which the theme was refracted into a rainbow of workshops dealing with joy in drama, worship, employment, family, marriage, friendship and retirement The Sunday worship services were joyful gatherings of praise and worship. The morning service included two lovely anthems sung by the conference choir, an inspiring sermon by Kenneth Baker of Hamilton, and the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The vesper service centered around a presentation of “The Greatest Song” in oratorio form, introduced by senior member Calvin Seerveld, and concluded with liturgical dance. On Monday afternoon Spykmnan focussed the various refracted rays back into one beam of light with his closing address, “Do we dare to be joyful?” and sent the conferees on their way to be beacons of joy in the world.
The element of joy pervaded the other as well. Saturday evening featured a variety program which included some superb displays of dramatic and musical talent, and was followed by exuberant folk dancing. A whole program of non-competitive games and sports had been organized by Herb Goodhoofd, and was highlighted by the now-traditional volleyball tournament The children's program, always difficult to organize and sustain for so large a group over a three-day period, was praised by many parents and not a few children, with the story-telling by Johanna Peetoom and bert polman a great success. And spicing up all these activities was the singing which came to a climax in the Sunday evening songfest
The evaluations we received have been overwhelmingly positive, and provided lots of advice both for topics for next year and for specific improvements which could be made. We are grateful for this kind of feedback, for it helps us in our planning, which must begin again very soon. The 1984 conferences are over, but the joy lingers on. Across the country, people have refreshed themselves, gained new insights, been inspired with new ideas, and are now busy putting their Christian imagination to work, and thinking of new and joyful ways to praise God in worship and in everyday life. May the seeds sown this summer lead to a harvest that is pleasing and acceptable to God and up building to His Church.