By Jack Densmore, TX

While the YMCA was founded as a Christian organization, it accommodates and welcomes a diversity of religions. YMCA Conference on National Affairs delegates include Jewish, Muslim, agnostic and atheist believers as well as those of many different Christian denominations. A few delegates this week observed Ramadan while on the mountain.

“I think that because there’s so many people here who have very strongly held convictions from all over the country where we have so many different beliefs, it’s really hard for a conference to accommodate everyone, and I think that CONA really does a great job,” said Minnesota delegate AJ Yablonsky, who recited a Jewish prayer during the Monday evening devotional, and was met with great appreciation and applause. “It’s great that, as a Jew, that I felt comfortable enough to go up and talk about my beliefs, and try to incorporate everyone. I think that no matter what, we all share the same values, and I think CONA does a really great job of talking more about the values [rather] than the specific faith and beliefs.”

“When I was walking off the stage and Bob [McGaughey] walked out onto the stage, I thought that everyone stood up and was clapping for him,” Yablonsky said. “Afterwards though, everyone came up to me and told me how great it was, and that it really impacted them. So, that was really special for me, because I really put heart into what I said, and I really appreciate the support that I got from everyone.”