By Karen L. Willoughby
MORGAN, Utah – Twin brothers Chase and Gavin Roberts lead the church they restarted in 2020 to routinely provide meals for different segments of the town on Interstate 84 southwest of Ogden.
“We think it’s the best way to reach our people,” Chase Roberts told UI Connections. “We’re having visitors almost every week.”
Food connects the church with its community.
“When we came to Morgan we knew you had to show the community you were for the community,” Gavin Roberts told UI Connections. “How do we bring value to Morgan County?”
The Roberts brothers came with their parents to Utah for skiing vacations when they were as young as 5. That instilled a love for “the West,” which led 20 years later to Chase being hired from Conway, Arkansas, as a football coach and math teacher at Wasatch High School in Heber City. After three years there, this fall he started at Morgan High School.
Gavin, a college pastor, soon followed. With his background in finance and business, the brothers started a sports apparel company. At Morgan Grace, Gavin is the lead preaching pastor; Chase is more the executive (administrative) pastor.
The brothers had already been in contact with Jeff Hurlbut, who had started a church in Morgan in 2012. Covid was its undoing. There were five people remaining when Chase arrived in May 2020 to help. Hurlbut left in July, after leading the remaining congregation to consider calling Chase as pastor.
“We had just always wanted to live in the West, in a town that didn’t have another evangelical church,” Chase said. “Morgan Grace turned out to be a good fit and good timing.”
Morgan Grace meets at 5:30 p.m. Sunday afternoons so people with other weekend activities can attend in the late afternoon. Church services take place in a rented building in the heart of downtown Morgan. Everyone is invited to share in a potluck meal afterward each week.
“We started that in the fall of 2020, when we had 20 people,” Chase said. “Now that we have 100 it’s a pretty big undertaking. It has brought our people together. We have a really strong community because we spend an hour a week sharing a meal together.
“It’s a great way for us to connect with visitors,” Chase added. “Our people always stay for dinner, which is really cool.”
Morgan Grace’s sending church is Redemption Church in Ogden, where Bobby Wood is pastor.
“Morgan Grace Church is doing very well,” Wood told UI Connections. “They have a strong group of people attending and are very involved in the community.
“They love their community and show it,” Wood continued. “They have become part of the fabric of their community.”
One of Morgan Grace’s out-of-state sponsors, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Greenbriar, Ark., in 2021 sent a small trailer with the church’s name on it, inside of which was a massive grill and griddle.
“We use that to feed every school staff in five schools,” Chase said. “We also do first responders and city employees’ lunch, parent teacher conferences, teacher work days and more.
“We tell the principals, ‘If you ever need a meal for your teachers and staff, let us do it for you, help your budget.’ We do this to say, ‘Hey, we appreciate what you do.’ We’re the grill guys for Morgan County.”
The church started off by grilling burgers and hot dogs. With the help of donations from churches and individuals, they now also grill chicken tenders marinated in Italian seasoning for 12 hours, and pancake breakfasts that include bacon and eggs too.
“Part of our whole thing is, we want to do things well,” Gavin said. “We go above and beyond to love our community and give them what’s best, not cheapest. We want people to know we do it out of abundance. We try to be very generous.”
This means cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles plus all the condiments for burgers and hotdogs, such as ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, buffalo sauce and more. The chicken comes with baked beans and chips.
A dozen, up to 25 teens, participate in youth night at the church every week, which includes fun, a meal and Bible study. With the Roberts’ relationship with the high school and local community, the students feel they already have a connection with the pastors even before the first word is spoken. From the jump when this church was planted over ten years ago, MGF had a special relationship with the schools. Jeff Hurlbut invested many of the church’s early years in personally connecting with the school system.
That reminds Chase of starting a church in Pattonsburg, Missouri, when he was a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I started feeding the football team there,” Chase said. “That’s where I realized the power of generosity.”
Morgan Grace allocates 7 percent of its budget for giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together to spread the gospel worldwide.
“We appreciate the cooperative work of Southern Baptists and the churches that support us,” said Chase, including personal connections as well as the support he receives as a NAMB church planter. “God is using us to make an impact in a town that never had an evangelical church before.”
Karen Willoughby is a frequent contributor to UI Connections.
Images used by permission from Morgan Grace Church website and social media networks.