In March of 1994 Anita McMillan was asked to chair the Youth Day Celebration of Baptist Grove Church. Instead of the regular one day morning Worship service, Anita planned a three-day celebration, including workshops, praising the Lord through music, dance, drama and mime ending with a program where the youth could display their individual talents. The support for this program was overwhelming and everyone enjoyed this new choir, even though it was temporary.
Later that month, the Lord birth into Anita the vision to continue the program in the form of an outreach ministry to all surrounding communities using the performing arts with the gospel of Jesus Christ as our message. It was on this day that the Make A Joyful Noise Youth (MAJN) Outreach Ministry was founded.
Anita realized with so much unrest that was taking place throughout the country, more than ever that our young people needed to be grounded in positive activities to help build up our communities. She realized that it was critical to show children that they are loved and would always be welcomed and will not face rejection. MAJN would help in replacing despair with “hope” that our youth’s tomorrows would be better. MAJN would use the performing arts as a method to develop, and train the youth using a firm message to help them in today’s struggles against crime, poverty and destruction. MAJN would build self-esteem, self-worthiness, and confidence of constructive thinking so that they can achieve positive goals in the future and give back to their communities.
Although the ministry was open to any youth, the 25 youth from Baptist Grove Church between the ages of 5 – 18 would become the 1st members of this newly founded ministry. The only requirement for membership was “wanna be”, yes, wanna be in it. They would grow to produce a two-hour production with singing, skits, dancing and MIMEs. Each year they would go on a 9-day tour presenting this praise production throughout the east coast and southern states. They have performed in various cities in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC with repeat invitations to perform. Their travels were highlighted with visits to historical churches and sites i.e., Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC, Kennedy Space Center; and they met Congressional leaders, the first black female Mayor of Gary, Indiana, Karen Freeman-Wilson. Wherever they travelled, fun would be had as they visited Hershey Park in PA, Disney World in FL, Times Square in NYC, Stone Mountain in GA, and so many other amusement parks and popular sites. They had just completed a tour in Louisiana when two weeks later Hurricane Katrina would develop into a disastrous storm and destroy the state.
At one point MAJN’s membership would exceed 100 members and they would perform a 2-hour production as the children would tell the story of salvation through song, dance, skits, and mime. Throughout the years over 500 youth have passed through the MAJN program as members. Since the beginning of MAJN, it has always been a non-profit organization. The successes that MAJN have achieved are due to the dedicated volunteers and from the heartwarming youth conferences, theaters, community centers and churches who have welcome them. Their dedicated time and resources are one of the reasons why MAJN is celebrating their Twenty-Fifth (25th) Anniversary. However, the main reason why this celebration is taking place is because God has blessed this ministry throughout its existence with safe travels, resources, and most of all His love.
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