Our History

cropped-banner045.jpgThe Conference was founded in 1893 as a Christian Conference for young women by May Whittle Moody, daughter-in-law of evangelist Dwight Moody.  For a week each year they met on the campus of the Northfield School (situated on the grounds of the Moody farm).

During war-time in the 1940’s the Conference separated into three geographical areas: the Northern Area Conference (our “Northfield”) on the Northfield Mount Hermon campus; the Erie Area Conference, held at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania; and the Middle-Atlantic Conference, held on Cape Cod.  Each conference developed differently.

The Northern Area Conference (Northfield) has become a multi-generational community for individuals and families, with the program planning emanating from its participants. Through both a secular and spiritual lens, we honor the diversity of the human experience by striving towards honest, open and authentic sharing.  In 2007 the Middle Atlantic Conference officially rejoined with our Northern Area Conference, and in 2013 the Erie Conference did the same bringing the Northfield Conference back to one entity.

Note About Historical Documents

The Conference is creating a new section of our website that is devoted to historical documents and other writings specifically related to the Conference and its history. It might, for instance, include Conference Hour talks, or written reflections about peoples’ perceptions of the Conference; however it will not include polemic or political writings.

The first two documents were written by George Blackman and offer some fascinating glimpses into the Conference in years past. George was one of the Episcopalian priests who worked at the Conference in the 1960’s when it was still a Christian conference for young women.  He and his family were instrumental in shifting the focus to be inclusive of all spiritual beliefs and to become a family conference. The documents have been edited by Harry Blackman, George’s eldest son, who has spent considerable time and energy putting them in presentable form. Our thanks to him for this offering. There is also a ‘bullet’ history of the Conference written by Maeve Blackman.

We welcome other contributions, so if you have something you believe would be of interest, email them to Andrew Mason at awmason18@gmail.com. We are, by the way, looking for someone who has the interest and the time to be the Conference historian!

Historical Documents:

My First Northfield  Written by George Blackman and edited by his son Harry, this document recounts the author’s initial experiences with Northfield back in 1969. 

A Tale of the Northfield Conference  Written by George Blackman and edited by his son Harry, this document offers a glimpse back at the history of the Northfield Conference.

Northfield Timeline  A quick history of key moments in the history of the Northfield Conference, from 1837 to the present day. 

George Blackman

George Blackman