MRA seniors participate in Passion 2024 Christian conference
A fresh group of almost 80 Madison-Ridgeland Academy seniors recently attended Passion 2024 in Atlanta, a large Christian worship conference for students ages 18 to 25.
“Honestly it was so moving,” said Courtlyn Taylor, an MRA senior who went on the trip.
This year, Passion 2024 was held at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta from Wednesday, Jan. 3, through Friday, Jan. 5.. Nathan Stamper, MRA Spiritual Life Director and the chaperone for the trip, said there were upwards of 55,000 people at this year’s conference.
“I started tearing up,” Taylor said. “Just to see so many passionate about Jesus.”
Stamper said MRA has taken a group of seniors to Passion for about 11 years. Stamper said he has only missed one of those trips. The first group of seniors the school took was about five, this year Stamper said they brought something like 80 percent of the senior class.
“I think they were overwhelmed by the amount of people there,” Stamper said.
Christian Franklin, a student on the trip, said it was one of her first experiences in a place with that many people.
“it was cool to see everyone worshipping one name,” Franklin said. “it was a taste of heaven.”
Over the three-day conference, the students sang songs and heard speakers.
“The speakers were really good,” Taylor said. “They did a good job of speaking to young adults, selecting topics that would resonate with us and delivering a message we can carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
The overwhelming response has been to the music, led by the Passion Band and featuring several Christian artists like Brandon Lake.
For Joe Koury, Brandon Lake’s performance of his song “Gratitude” was the highlight of the three-day trip.
“Everyone knew the lyrics,” Koury said.
He said he and some of his best friends locked arms and sang along.
“It was moving for me,” Koury said.
Franklin remembers a truly communal experience. At the end of a song, the praise band led the crowd in singing the lyrics “Holy, holy, holy, worthy is the Lamb.” Franklin said the crowd and the band were in complete unison synching up exactly for long pauses and other changes. Franklin said that based on a clock above the stage the crowd of close to 55,000 students had just sang in unison for close to 15 minutes.
The conference involves a lot of “long days and short nights” Stamper said. He noted that after the group returned and caught up on their sleep there has been a renewed enthusiasm for the conference on the MRA campus among the senior class.
“It has been great to come back to school and hear the students talk about their experience,” Stamper said.