Creating Community One Brisket at a TimeApr 01, 2021 ● By Amy Kryzak
Earnest Morgan is a man of many talents, and they all work together for the benefit of the Frisco community.
Mr. Morgan and his wife, Cicely, moved from Mississippi to Frisco in 2015, where their positive impact was felt immediately. In addition to leading and pastoring community members at Empowerment Church Texas, Mr. Morgan is involved in numerous community boards and organizations including the Rotary Club of Frisco and Frisco Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member for the Frisco-based nonprofit Melody of Hope, which uses the power of music to share its gospel-centered mission.
The Morgans’ dedication to community service didn’t begin with their move to Frisco. Their care and desire to be involved spans decades.
In 1996, in Amory, Miss., Mr. Morgan gave his life to the Lord. Two years later, he began preaching at Carter’s Chapel Church. He desired to foster authentic and genuine connections with people in the community. To further this goal, Mr. Morgan began cooking and serving his locally famous barbecue as part of the church’s ministry to help the less fortunate in the community.
In 2006, the Morgans and their two children moved to Dallas and the couple enrolled at Christ for the Nations, a Bible college, where they lived on campus for two years while earning degrees in pastoral leadership. Following graduation, they returned to Amory where they continued pastoring and serving. This ministry led to an opportunity for the Morgans, as the Lord blessed their acts of service in feeding the community. They were also able to turn Earnest’s barbecue talents into a successful business.
Over the next eight years, the Morgans opened and operated five barbecue restaurants in Mississippi, with Mr. Morgan serving as pitmaster. But the heart of his cooking had always been about serving and meeting the needs of others. Even with the success of their restaurants, they still spent much of their time and resources providing good food and support for the community.
The Morgans continued preaching, cooking and serving others in Mississippi until they heard God call them elsewhere. Six years ago, they sold their restaurants and moved to Frisco, where he accepted a position with Crest Auto Group. The couple quickly came to love their new community. Mr. Morgan says the close-knit relationships between Frisco residents help the fast-growing city feel like a small, intimate community. He even came up with a lyrical way to express how he feels about Frisco: “Birds belong in the air, fish belong in the sea, but I belong in Frisco.”
It was while working at Crest Auto Group that Mr. Morgan once again felt the call to pastor others. This led him to found Empowerment Church Texas in 2016. Some of its first congregants were his Crest clients who met to worship in the dealership’s event room. Through 2017, church members continued meeting, worshiping at Crest and the Marriott hotel at The Shops at Legacy in Plano as the congregation grew. In 2018, Mr. Morgan stepped out in faith and began pastoring full time, which allowed him to become even more involved in community outreach activities while also continuing to bless people with his delicious barbecue.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, like most area churches Empowerment Church Texas pivoted to online services, with Mr. Morgan filming and streaming services from the living room of his home. Its congregation has since returned to meeting in person, sharing space at Hope Fellowship Church’s East Frisco campus on Rolater Road on Sunday afternoons. (It also continues to offer several services online.)
Mr. Morgan has also served the larger Dallas community. In 2019, each Saturday he and members of Empowerment Church Texas cooked and served barbecue to as many as 250 guests at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center in Dallas. However, after serving in Dallas for a year, he began to feel a pull in his spirit to also serve the Frisco community, including its first responders. In January 2020, he spoke with Frisco Police Chief David Shilson and shared his desire to serve and support the department. The men agreed to discuss specific ideas and more concrete plans at a later time, but a tragedy accelerated that process.
In May 2020, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis brought discussions about relations between communities of color and law enforcement agencies to the forefront of the nation’s political and ideological conversations. Mr. Morgan began to pray about what he could do within his own community of Frisco. As an African American, he realized that he was uniquely and divinely positioned to have an impact within his community. “I know what racism is, and I know I was called here to make a change,” he said.
After prayer and at the Lord’s urging, he made a decision: Rather than participate in area protests and marches, Mr. Morgan once again reached out to Chief Shilson and began making plans to help build a bridge between Frisco community members and the city’s police officers. What better way to foster community connections than with a good, hometown Texas barbecue? On June 19, 2020 – the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States – Mr. Morgan cooked and served more than 600 pounds of meat to upward of 100 Frisco police officers. For the event, Empowerment Church partnered with Hope Fellowship Church, The Potter’s House of North Texas and several Frisco businesses. A week later, they served more than 100 Frisco firefighters from the city’s nine stations.
Recalling the Juneteenth event, Mr. Morgan quotes civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying, “The time is always right to do what is right,” and adds that doing the right thing comes without agendas or strings attached. Mr. Morgan said he had no agenda apart from serving others in the community when he catered the meal for Frisco first responders. But soon, doors of opportunity began swinging open for him. He credits God for blessing him once again, and points to Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Part of that good included the Morgans being able to officially establish Earnest B’s BBQ & Catering Company in December 2020. However, as they began dreaming of opening a barbecue restaurant in Frisco, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans. The couple ultimately decided to forgo opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant and instead expanded the catering business into the mobile space, making a custom food trailer the official home of Earnest B’s BBQ & Catering Company.
For a man dedicated to connecting with and loving people, the idea of being mobile serves well Mr. Morgan’s larger vision of community service. This month, the Earnest B’s BBQ custom food concession trailer will be ready to begin cooking and serving delicious barbecue in and around Frisco. While the city will be its hub, being a mobile operation will allow him to serve people throughout Collin and Denton counties. Many of his longtime catering customers are excited, including Ashley Miller of Frisco. “Our family can always count on Earnest B to deliver delicious barbecue for meaningful gatherings,” she said. “We have entrusted him with major holidays, big milestones and important gatherings. We are always blown away and are so excited to visit and support Earnest B’s BBQ food trailer as soon as it opens.”
Being a lead pastor, pitmaster, Frisco Rotarian, small business owner and board member of a nonprofit organization, Mr. Morgan wears a lot of hats daily. Each is donned as a means “to better serve people,” he said. His many contributions are a boon to Frisco. The Morgans’ hearts for the community and beyond are boundless. The couple continues to increase their involvement and build friendships by reaching out and connecting with people under the banners of love, mutual respect and community support.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:
Amy Kryzak is a wife, mom and blogger who loves connecting fellow moms, food in all shapes and forms and loves all things Frisco.