A fence is going up around the side yard of Dugger Mountain Music Hall in Piedmont. Children are playing in the yard. Construction materials are piled outside the south door. Many changes are underway.
Shana and Matthew Raughton are the new owners of the popular music hall, which hosts monthly concerts with many highly respected artists. Concerts are free but donations are welcome, and the music hall has proven to be a popular place on many a Saturday night. Even with new ownership, the music hall will continue as a venue for concerts.
The Raughtons have worked for years with Broken Stone Ministries, the charity that formerly owned the music hall. Broken Stone’s director, Bob McLeod, took over the building years ago to expand a ministry, Our Father’s Arms, described as “homes of healing and hope for individuals and families in crisis.”
As the initial ministry unfolded, McLeod believed that God had plans to include the music hall. Dugger Mountain concerts are now broadcast into homes each week through television.
From the music hall’s inception, Matthew Raughton used his communication and technology skills to help out. “I came around 2010 to help Bob,” Raughton said. “He was my first mentor after I was saved.”
After his conversion to Christianity, Raughton, a guitarist and former band member, engineered some of the music sessions at the music hall studio, and assisted others in its development. He relied on the experience he had gained when building his first studio in the Eastaboga home of his parents, Frank and Deborah Raughton.
In 2012, he began working in Atlanta at Mount Paran Church as the assistant media director. Later, he started his own company, Fully Equipped Media.
Today, he and his employees work with churches, ministries and family organizations to install sound, media and video systems and lighting. He has also added a livestream component to his company. He oversees three full-time employees and six part-time employees.
Along the way, he married Shana, and the couple has five children, one with special needs. Matthew credits Shana for helping him in all his endeavors, including their ownership of a construction company, which gave him the skills needed in the remodeling of Dugger Mountain Music Hall.
“My wife is a huge part of all of this,” Raughton said. “She is supportive and helpful.”
Dugger Mountain Music Hall was a church building before it became a music hall and home for the homeless. The Raughtons have renovated the main hall. They turned the supper room into a family space. They upgraded all the equipment in the music hall, and Raughton is turning the south side of the building into offices for his enterprises. Also, the Raughtons are now sleeping in former Sunday school rooms that once housed the homeless.
“We are now a partner with Broken Stone and Tom Potts of Potts Marketing,” Raughton said. “We are coming alongside them. We do all the media work in the 1,100-seat Mill Town Music Hall in Bremen, Ga., which has brought in many country music stars, such as Travis Tritt, The Temptations, Chubby Checker, the Oak Ridge Boys and the Gatlin Brothers. We have connected with them, and we hope to attract their stars’ opening acts at Dugger Mountain.”
McLeod said he is excited about the next generation of Christians taking up “the torch.”
“He and Shana are partners in the ministry,” McLeod said. “We feel they will take the Dugger Mountain Music Hall to the next level. The music hall continues to be the high profile of a low-profile ministry, Our Father’s Arms. Profits will continue to help provide funding for the Urgent Care Free Clinic, homes of healing and hope, drug rehabilitation and an after-care and orphan-care for a prison ministry in Ukraine.”
The Raughtons have their hands full raising children, running a business, and spreading the love they feel for God.
Sometimes, and only on necessary occasions, Raughton will fill in for an absent musician, pick up his guitar, and strum along with a group — a reminder of how he started on the path he feels God chose for him after a few rough starts.
Sherry Kughn is a local freelance writer. Contact her at email@example.com.