1986 ICS Niagara Conference
Perspective: From the President’s Pen by Clifford C. Pitt
The Institute for Christian Studies Niagara Family Conference! … what were some of the highlights for me, personally? The images and memories that keep coming back?
The “Music and Story” evening … could have listened for hours to young violinist Stephanie Numan and her father Fred, on the piano … the “Boys from Redeemer” with their smashing rendition of modem rock a la “The Nylons”… author Hugh Cook’s dramatic reading … the mediaeval madrigals of voice and recorder of the Gerzinus Hoekstra family were fun and new and sweet … then Herman de Jong’s legend (did it really happen?) of the splendid (?) sense of family responsibility exhibited by three young, father/babysitters at the Niagara Conference of an earlier day …
Then, of course, the communal singing! impossible not to respond lustily to the beat of Michael Posthumus’s drums, Brian Homs’ guitar, Syd Hielema’s ivories, under the leadership of Cal Langejans or Pearl Samplonius … imagine! these several hundred crazy Christians singing the songs of Zion for over three hours straight until well after midnight! … (wonder if the American side heard us?) a score of youngsters having the time of their lives in the enormous sand pile … conference Chairman Rev. Herman Praamsma with his godly grin (his wildly flowered shorts were something else!) … a lithe Syl Gerritsma winning the Hollingsworth Challenge Marathon … the river, sparkling in the bright August days; a velvety darkness at night interrupted only by occasional, glimmering reflections … teenage couples walking off into the twilight, no doubt to discuss the latest lecture(!) …
Dorothy and I have carried all year the deep warmth of your welcome at last year’s Niagara Conference so it was really great greeting friends we hadn’t seen since then… much appreciated the wise and constructive counsel of a group of CRC pastors … wonderful to have so many individual expressions of renewed appreciation and support for ICS … wonderful, too, to have the sensitive caring of ICS friends (personal friends now) encouraging me, personally, in the work the Lowell Witvoets’ hospitable tradition of Sunday morning coffee enabling us to meet with a host of supporters from the Niagara area, from London and from Chatham … and then the tangible support of the Conference’ s quite extraordinary donation of $10,000 to ICS: I take this as a greatly encouraging token from the Lord, through His people.
The kaleidoscope of memories continues … the deeply moving Sunday moring worship service with over 1,100 present! … the choir’s beautiful “The Lord is my Shepherd” … the soul-searching hush and reverence as we passed the bread and wine … the body of Christ given for you, the blood of Christ shed for you … the last afternoon and the sweet charm and fun (Daniel in the Lions Den!) of a packed children’s choir … a gift of love to Aukje Masselink, Chairman (pro tem) of our Executive Committee and Niagara Conference Volunteer No. 1 who eats, sleeps, breathes (and prays) ICS Niagara Family Conference for weeks on end … and, finally, a very special custom-tailored memory: Linda Dykstra’s Children’s Theme Song, sung by Betty Stothouber, composed expressly for Niagara Cory ference, 1986:
“Jesus wants a change of heart — The old will just not do. Then changes won’t seem quite so bad, His power pulls you through!”