1985 ICS Niagara Conference
Perspective Report by Carol-Ann Veenkamp

For most Canadians, the first weekend in August was just another holiday, but for 962 people those days were an opportunity to explore what it means to be created in the image of God, the theme of the 27th annual Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) conference held at Niagara Christian College near Fort Erie.

ICS senior member, Dr. James Olthuis, kicked off the workshop sessions in delivering the keynote address, ‘ ‘The Image As Gift and Call.”

Dr. Olthuis explained that the gift of being image-bearers is also a call to be image-bearers — to love as God loves, to work, and to play as God does.

Imaging is reserved for humans who are created after God’s kind, to be co-creators, co-partners in a covenant of love and blessing he said.

Also, in Jesus Christ, the human partnership with God the creator is renewed as a partnership of liberation and , he pointed out

One’s identity is found not in asking, “Who am I?” as much as by asking, “Whose am I?” since image-bearing means belonging to the Creator, Dr. Olthuis said. “I was loved, therefore I am.”

In being gifted with God’s image, humans are called to become that image, to put off old ways and to don the new ways of Christ, until in the final day of the Lard, “we will be fully human,” he said.

Imaging is a dynamic process that takes a life-time and continues on into glory, he said.

In winding up the conference Monday afternoon, Dr. Olthuis told the audience that by committing themselves to discovering their own unique giftedness as image-bearer, and by finding an arena in which that giftedness may flourish, they would be manifesting the glory of God’s “that has come and is

“Life beckons and invites. The , we have discovered, is our identity. We need only to respond,” he declared.

“In your chosen place, with your particular giftedness, in and with the support of like-minded people, live as new images of God you are in Jesus Christ,” he charged, before adding, “and whatever you do, do it in the name of love, for it iS to love that you’ve been called. The world is

The theme was further explored in the workshops which followed the keynote speech. Topics examined included, “Image of God as Male and Female,” led by Rev. and Mary VanderVennen, “Different Images,” a seminar on being handicapped, led by Dr. Leonard Kirk who is himself wheelchair-bound, “Room for Imagination,” by , “The Scratched Image,” by Dr. , a discussion of medical ethics under the direction of Dr. , Spirituality — The Shape of Daily Life,” by Dr. George Vandervelde, “To be Alone and In Community,” by Dr. Remkes Kooistra, and three workshops held exclusively for teenagers, “Taking the Tiger By the Tail,” an examination of rock videos by Ken Heffner, “Free to be Me,” by Dr. Olthuis, and “Listening — The Road to ,” by Christel Vonk-Zeyl.

Other highlights of the weekend included a concert entitled, “Malice Gives Way,” by Rev. , who also led a musical sermon Sunday evening, and Sunday morning’s service, which was attended by approximately 1 ,000 worshippers, and conducted by Rev. Henry Lunshof. Rev. Pierik preached the sermon.

Donations received at the conference totaled $7,800 or 87 percent more than was collected last year at the ICS conference.

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