By Caroline Bell, NC Staff Writer

For those who chose to participate, the first full day on the mountain began with an optional worship service.

The opening prayer, led by Addison Smith, Alabama, was followed by the song, “Ever Be,” to remind everyone that God has taken care of us and will continue to take care of us. Noelle Michell, New York; JeanMarie Kmetz, Texas; as well as Olivia Pride and Hayden Sledge of Alabama, sang “Ever Be” and another song later in the worship.

Tennessee’s Meg Perry read Galatians 6:1-10, which urges us to “be kind to everyone you meet, regardless of background.” Shortly after the reading, Elizabeth Gilbert, New York, read a quote by Martin Luther King Jr., discussing how to use nonviolence for peace, and Andrew Czazsty of Mississippi read the poem “Precious, Present,” which urges us to enjoy the little moments and celebrate the now.

Alabama’s Olivia Westfall, led the morning devotion on tolerance. She read a few quotes from the Bible, the Quran, and Ghandi. “This program teaches us to  be world changers … To make change, we must love thy neighbors. It is our differences that make us unique, and it is our differences that bring us together,” she said.

Another song,  “Holy Spirit,” taught that the presence of God is everywhere. Before closing prayer and dismissal, the floor was opened for delegates to share what was on their hearts.

Optional morning devotions in the Blue Ridge Center lobby offer a spiritual outlet for the remainder of the week. Those are led by former CONA Director Bob McGaughey.