They came from as far away as Rwanda, Italy and Iran, and as nearby as McDonough.
More than 50,000 people jammed the Georgia Dome, where they clasped or raised their hands in prayer.
They swayed to music by popular artists like Christy Nockels and Matt Redman and hung on to every word by prominent Christian thought leaders like John Piper, and Katherine and Jay Wolf.
That was the scene Tuesday during the second day of Passion 2017, a Christian-based gathering of young adults typically ranging in age from 18 to 25. This is the 20th year for the conference, which grew out of a Bible study started in Texas two decades ago by Louie and Shelley Giglio as a way to reach college students and their leaders interested in a deeper understanding of Christianity and God.
Today, the faithful come from 90 countries and more than 1,600 colleges.
Micah Godsey, a 20-year-old from McDonough and a member of Sharon Baptist Church, was attending his first Passion conference to fellowship with his friends—and strangers.
“I get a chance to hear what God’s putting on their hearts,” he said. “It’s just cool to hear how passionate they are about Christ.”
“We all want the same thing—the experience,” said Hannah Moore, 21, also of McDonough.
“You have this group of people who come together under one name, and that’s Jesus,” she said.
On Monday night—the opening of the conference—attendees were treated to a surprise performance by Carrie Underwood, who performed with Crowder, and then did a solo performance of the award-winning “Something in the Water.”
Underwood was trending on Twitter Monday night and the Grammy winner took to Twitter as well.
“What an incredible night @passion268 ! Thanks for letting me be a small part of it! & thanks @crowdermusic for letting me crash your set!”
Attendees were also given a copy of “The Jesus Bible,” which includes contributions from not only the pastor of Passion City Church, Giglio, but other Christian heavyweights such as Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias and Randy Alcorn.
A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that millennials are less likely than older Americans to practice an organized religion, although they may believe in God and have spiritual practices. Only about four-in-10 millennials say religion is very important in their lives.
In addition, 27 percent of millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, much lower than 38 percent of baby boomers and 51 percent of the so-called silent and greatest generations.
In previous years, students who attend the Passion conference have given more than $8 million to fight modern-day slavery through “The END IT Movement.” Students will also participate in another effort, “Make History Together.”
Attendees are being asked to bring new towels and socks that will be distributed to homeless shelters.
Here’s what people are saying: