Twenty years ago this month I sat in my freshman English class with a brand new Mead 5 Star Notebook covered by a sticker with my favorite band at the time – Shaded Red. A boy walked by my desk and noticed said sticker, then mentioned that he would be seeing them in concert that evening. After negotiations with my parents to join this new friend and his dad for the concert, I knew that the Mugfords would play an important part of my life for years to come.
Shortly after our concert experience, I started attending the youth service that Jeff Mugford led, aptly called Hot Church. This youth group was unlike anything I had experienced. There was a full band rocking out with a team of high schoolers leading vocals, relevant and timely messages for teenagers, small group options to learn more about God, and a tight knit community that supported one another in life. Within months, I joined the worship team and a small group, and even convinced my parents to move churches.
There were weekly rehearsals, weekend camps, yearly overnights to Magic Mountain, summer missions trips, and SO many concerts. The memories are vivid and the relationships still exist.
Today marks the Hot Church Reunion where we all come together to reminisce and bid farewell to the facility that convened us during our formative years. As we have all prepared for the service that will take place and shared memories, I have braced myself to feel all the feels. This building was my second home, more than any other place. It was my church from freshman year of high school until I graduated college and moved to Nebraska. It was my first job when I helped program music for services. It was the place where we said our final goodbye to my dad in a sanctuary filled with friends and family.
Today we say goodbye to Hot Church, but not to all the memories that we keep forever with us.
You matter to me and you matter to God.