Students flocked from near and far to the 2016 Passion Conference to kick off the new year. The annual passion conference took place on January 2-4th. The conference is a Christian gathering of eighteen to twenty five year old high school seniors and college students who participate in worship, listen to renowned speakers and join community groups with new faces from all across the world.
This year, Passion’s motto was “3 locations. 2 cities. One heartbeat.” Students gathered in both Philips Arena and Infinite Energy Arena in Atlanta and at the Toyota Center in Houston. Every sermon took place in an individual arena and was lived streamed to the others so it was live for everyone at all times. Famous Christian artists such as Rend Collective, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Lecrae, the Passion band and many others traveled to each arena to perform.
The conference seemed to leave a lasting impact on many Wesleyan students and alumni. Senior Bekah Middlebrooks said, “Louie’s theme for the entire conference was ‘He is risen’ and I can’t think of a better ‘takeaway’ from Passion 2016 than that amazing truth. I loved that Louie emphasized that when Jesus was resurrected, the angel didn’t move the stone from His tomb to let Jesus out, but instead to let us in to see what God has done and teach us to live as ‘victors, not victims.’”
Alumni Regan Lochmandy (15’) has really been intentional about pursuing her faith in college and has attended the conference in the past. Lochmandy said, “going to Passion, it made all of the doubting voices of people in my classes and people shouting their opinions in the Student Center plaza go away, and it was the most reassuring three days because I realized that although I may seem like a minority on my campus because I love Jesus, I’m part of a huge group of tens of thousands of people my age who are feeling the same things that I am at 1,600 campuses across the world. It’s okay to have doubts and for people to test your faith if in the end you come away with a stronger foundation. Passion gave me a stronger foundation by reminding me of the beauty of the Gospel and the greatness of Jesus’ love for me and the freedom that comes with pursuing a relationship with Him.”
Every year the conference has a vision to raise awareness for a current issue. In past years, they have focused on the “End it Movement” which raises awareness to end sex trafficking all over the world.
This year Passion focused on the Syrian refugee crisis and asked students to donate any money to help project Haraka which will fund the building of a hospital in northwest Syria for women and children. The goal was $575,000,000 and they ended up raising a grand total of around $785,000,000. This generation was sent out from this conference with high hopes to positively influence the world around them.
Senior Chris Middelton said, “I think it’s impossible to wrap your mind around the exponential growth of events like this. Yes, many lives were changed at the conference, but the lives that will be changed by the people in the audience is impossible to grasp, which is exciting.” Passion 2016 was definitely a memorable conference but Passion 2017 is said to be even better.
In 2017, the conference will be the last event to take place in the Georgia Dome before it is taken down. Tickets are already available. To those who did not have a chance to attend this year, the Passion Conference is definitely a worthwhile experience for the coming years.