It’s hard to convey the experience of these conferences to those who have never been. For twenty years, starting in 1970, people of all ages got together on the August long weekend, staying in dorms, camping on the lawn of the Niagara Christian College or across the road at Miller’s Creek Campground. It was one big, happy mix of generations and occupations, engaging in lectures and workshops and worship. It was also predominantly Dutch and CRC. The unity of purpose and origin was strong, though ultimately unsustainable.
AACS, the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship, was the conference sponsor, though, truth be told, it was the conference goers who sponsored the AACS (now ICS). It had local chapters, made up of farmers, engineers, business people, teachers, housewives, and all sorts. They came from a Kuyperian tradition of well-read, religiously, socially and politically active little (ordinary) people (‘kleine luyden’). These people were not fazed by philosophy or theology, and they had activism bred into their bones.
The offshoots of this activism are well enough known and are still flourishing across the country. The conference experience, served elsewhere too, notably in Alberta and BC. Though smaller than the flagship Niagara conference, the regional conferences were significant events for many.
This movement is but a blip in redemption history, but it is worth remembering. This square-inch.net website aims to record for posterity some of its flavour and some of its teaching, and to gather, as well, reflections on its significance. Square-Inch is open to contributions from any and all who have been a part of the conference experience, including pictures, documents, resources, stories, comments and reflections.
This is a personal project of Henry de Jong, undertaken with the cooperation of the ICS board and staff. Henry is a conference alumni, who has spent the last 35 years building and renovating by the square inch in the Niagara Peninsula.