Joyful Noise: Madras United Methodist Church's musical initiative


Madras United Methodist Church's Joyful Noise Music Academy, an initiative rooted in diversity and inclusion, recently completed its first season, offering a much-needed music education outlet in central Oregon.

The Academy was conceived several years ago but was delayed due to the pandemic, according to Rev. Jill Plant, a deacon with the Oregon-Idaho Conference, based at Madras United Methodist church.

"Our congregation is a reconciling ministry congregation. Our values are inclusion and diversity," Plant said. "We welcome people without any regard to race, ethnicity or sexual identity."

Plant, who also serves as the central Oregon connectional ministry director, has been actively fostering relationships between churches in Madras, John Day, and Bend, seeking ways for these congregations to collaborate.

The inaugural academy season began in the winter, with 36 musicians, ranging in age from 2 to 74, signing up for early childhood singing, ukulele, guitar, and group piano lessons.

"A lot of the families in the community emphasized that there are not a lot of opportunities for young people after school, particularly in music education," said Plant, whose own ministry is steeped in music education and community bridge-building.

She underscores the significance of music as a means to connect on a soulful level, emphasizing that even small starts can lead to big outcomes.

"It doesn't have to start big; you can start with one class and build from there," Plant added.

The Joyful Noise Music Academy seems to have breathed a new life into the congregation, giving them the opportunity to welcome people back into the building and form relationships with the younger generation.

Plant spoke warmly of seeing a 2-year-old student eagerly running into the building for music class. 

"No matter what opportunity you find or what God is calling you to, just start with prayer. Have God connect you with the people that can make it happen and continue to pray while staying open," she said.

As for the future of the Joyful Noise Music Academy, with its successful inaugural season now completed, the church looks forward to continuing to provide opportunities for musical growth and community connection in Madras and the broader central Oregon region.