ST. IGNATIUS – It’s an effort targeted at raising money to save some of the most historic artwork in Western Montana, yet it’s also bringing different faiths together with a reminder of the values they all share.

The inspiration came to producer Janis Cates two years ago but it wasn’t until recently the idea of producing a full presentation of inspirational music with a choir and orchestra really started to gel.

“And then gradually it just grew, grew from the three, four, five of us into, now we have over a hundred people who are participating. And it’s so beautiful that the music speaks for itself. But I consider it a true miracle,” Cates said.

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That’s not really an understatement. In a time when the world is so full of animosity and fighting, local Christians are coming together, raising their voices in a program designed to inspire…

“And we have United Methodists and Catholics and Latter Day Saints, all together singing this music that we all relate to because we all love The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ,” Cates said.

That’s the name of the program the 80-voice choir, which will be joined by a full orchestra, is practicing underneath the historic dome at the Catholic St. Ignatius Mission.

“What I love about it is that we can take so many diverse religions and personal beliefs and all come together in a unity of faith and be able to sing and harmonize, not only with the music but with our souls,” choir director Sarah Murphy said.

“I think that’s what the message of Jesus Christ really brings to us, is that if, there’s one thing it means to be a Christian is that to love your bothers and your sisters,” she added.

And there’s the history tie-in. The upcoming performances in the Mission Valley — as well as in Missoula — will raise money for the project to save and restore the century-old murals — 58 panels that tell the Gospel story.

“This is one of the most beautiful edifices. And to be able to, whenever everyone hits their note perfectly on pitch and they swell with the music and then it just resonates, there’s been moments when I’ve been in tears. It’s so powerful and I love it,” Murray said.

“We want to restore this church. It is so gorgeous and it’s beautiful. You know, people come from all over the world to see it and we want it to be pristine,” Cates told MTN News.

Practices will continue every Saturday through March 17 with an open invitational for people to join. Performances start March 18.

Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News