ONA came into being in response to church renewal movements that emerged in the immediate aftermath of World War II. A number of laity centers and evangelical academies were established in Europe and North America at that time to address issues of reconciliation, social justice and spiritual renewal.
Initially an informal fellowship of persons involved in retreat centers and laity work, the movement gradually evolved into the North American Retreat Director's Association (NARDA), ONA, representing a broad spectrum of centers and individuals that provide conference facilities, renewal opportunities, retreats and adult education, throughout the United States and Canada. Committed to an ecumenical vision, ONA worked closely with the Education and Ecumenical Formation Team of the World Council of Churches.
NARDA has changed its name to Oikosnet North America (ONA) in response to the growing role of Oikosnet as an international network. As part of the reformulation of Oikosnet, ONA took on the name of the network in order to reflect its commitment to this international organization.