By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
EDGEWATER PARK â€“ When Dorion Morgan was sworn in as a member of the Rowan College Burlington County Board of Trustees last year, he admitted it was a position and honor he didn’t see coming.
Morgan, a Burlington County attorney who also serves as pastor of Restoration Station Christian Fellowship, said he received a call out of the blue from a fellow minister that got the ball rolling.
“That was a shock,” Morgan said about a phone received from Rev. Aubrey Fenton from Abundant Life Christian Fellowship. “He had been on the board years ago and stayed in touch with (board chair George N. Nyikita). He asked him if knew anyone that would be a good fit for the board and he gave them my name.
“After some interviews, I was named to the board and I’m so glad that they did because there are so many good things happening at Rowan College Burlington College that my community was unaware of. Now, I’ve made it my duty to make sure that everyone knows about it,” he continued.
Tapestry of Experiences
Morgan’s life has been a tapestry of experiences that has given him a unique view of life from vantage points most don’t get to see â€“ from spiritual world, legal courtroom and from his talents as a performer.
He has become accustomed to making the most out of what life has given him. He turned his love of music, spurred by his mother’s church singing, into a gospel music career with group Pastor Dorion Morgan and Total Praise.
“Singing is not just what I do, but who I am,” Morgan said.
Leaving Church to Start One
But he never thought about being a pastor of his own church. He was a faithful member of Christ Baptist Church in Burlington for years, where his father and grandfather were deacons. It is also where he met his wife Joy, singing in the church choir.
Even with those deep family roots, Morgan said he felt a calling to do something more with his faith.
“Maybe I was 32, and I really felt God leading me to leave the family church,” Morgan said. “I’m third generation at Christ Baptist Church at Burlington. God said it was time to go and I want to show you something different.
“It was quite a journey for my wife and I and leaving family and friends. It just opened my eyes to how big the kingdom of God is. Blacks are supposed to be part of the kingdom, but not the only kingdom. We’re on a multicultural track and trying to connect with people who don’t look like me, think like me or act like me, or sing like me and I think it has enhanced my entire ministry,” he added.
It’s been 15 years since that faithful decision to start Restoration Station and Morgan said he feels just as strongly that it was the right decision. The church celebrated its 15th anniversary in February.
Argument Leads to Legal Profession
His foray into the legal profession started in high school. Morgan said his freshman year at Burlington Township High School, he had a running argument with a teacher. After one of the arguments, the teacher asked him to stay after class.
“I would give him fits, just arguing about anything and everything,” Morgan admitted. “I thought I was getting detention. Instead of throwing me away, giving up on me or getting me suspended, he asked me to get involved in the school’s mock trial competition.
“He said, ‘I’m the supervisor and the way you argue, I would love to have you.’ For the next four years, I was a member of the mock trial team and it totally grabbed me. I said this is what I want to do. From 15, I said I wanted to be an attorney,” he continued.
Morgan, who earned his law degree at Rutgers Law School Camden, Â said that “second chance” the teacher gave him stuck. In his law practice and while counseling others in his ministry, he said he remembers how the teacher looked past what some would see as bad behavior and pull out something positive about it.
“I like to lead people so they can live their best lives,” Morgan said. “But I had to have second chances, so I’m totally understand people who need second chances. I’m sympathetic to those who made mistakes but willing to give them a chance to start over. That’s what I do in my law practice. Either representing you legally, or praying for you spiritually, for me, it’s all the same.”
Morgan has served as the Burlington Township Municipal Public Defender since 2003 along with his regular law practice.
“Mr. Morgan is a true leader who makes a difference in his community,” Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs said of him in a statement last year when he was appointed to the RCBC trustees board. “I was privileged to serve as an RCBC trustee and know what an extraordinarily rewarding experience it was. Students in Burlington County will benefit from Mr. Morgan’s service.”
Morgan touted RCBC’s 3+1 program, where students can complete 75 percent of their course work towards a bachelor’s degree at Rowan University for less than $30,000 and the ability to go to college free if you meet certain income requirements as life changing.
“You hear people say all the time how they can’t afford to go to college, but now there’s no excuse,” Morgan said.
A Musical Life, And Wife
Morgan said above all, he loves to sing. His music with Pastor Dorion Morgan and Total Praise can be found on iTunes, Amazon and other websites.
“I can’t remember a time not loving to listen to my mother sing,” Morgan said. “From the time of 4 of 5, they put me in the children’s choir and I’ve been singing ever since. I have several sisters who sing. My uncle started a bell choir. When I’m invited to preach anywhere, it’s hard for me to just talk without singing something.
“It’s just in me. What I’ve learned is that I’m not a soloist, but I lead others. I do just enough singing to get you involved,” Morgan continued.
It was that love of music and connected Morgan and his wife Joy Morgan at Christ Baptist. He played the organ while she led the choir.
“God loved me when he brought her into my life,” Morgan said. “My wife is phenomenal. She’s a leader. She cares for people and wants them to reach their destiny. She has her own website and does speaking engagements and has written several books.”
Joy Morgan earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, master’s in education. She is currently pursuing her doctorate.
“Since we’ve been, she’s been my partner,” Morgan said despite the fact they went to rival high schools â€“ Morgan at Burlington Township and Joy Morgan at Willingboro. “It’s a good thing we didn’t meet until college. We knew some mutual friends and mutual enemies.”
Book On the Way, Parents & Role Models
Morgan said his new book, “Another Chance: Experiencing God’s Amazing Grace,” will come out in October. Morgan discussed numerous others subject during his interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com.
FRNJ: I understand you were born and raised in Burlington Township. Tell me about your parents.
Dorion Morgan: My father turned 80 Aug. 20 and my mother is three years younger, but I can’t tell you her age. They are living in the same Burlington Township house I was born and raised in. They taught me community outreach and activism. I had four sisters and no brothers Some people said I was a prince but I felt like the jester. I had a phenomenal life.
FRNJ: Tell me your view about being a role model in your community not only as a pastor and attorney, but in your church as well.
Dorion Morgan: My father was my biggest role model. I always said if I can be half the man he is, I’ll be alright. The way I see it, if you don’t have an example, it’s hard to figure out life. It’s hard to figure out the right thing to do. Sometimes life is hard and you have to persevere. You do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do. Thatâ€™s the key to life. If you want to be NBA star, you have to practice and practice a lot. If you want to be an astronaut, you have to study. Don’t grumble and slack off and then be upset if you don’t get it. If you want respect, you have to respect others and respect yourself. I take the role as a role model seriously. It make me think about the things I say, the things I do, the post I almost send. Then say, maybe I shouldn’t send that and delete it totally. It walks with you to the store. It’s not about looking good as being good. It becomes part of your life.
FRNJ: You have a mentoring program at your church called Men of Destiny. Why is that important to you?
Dorion Morgan: It breaks my heart how many young men don’t have men in their life. I made mistakes in my life with good guidance. These young men who are out there with without guidance have no chance. It is our responsibility to help someone else and let them know you care. In (Men of Destiny), each mentee has a mentors. I tell our mentors to listen before you tell them anything, show them that you care. Before you tell them to pull up your pants or to do this or do that, you have to show up at their basketball games and football games. You need to do what you said you were going to do because they’ve seen too many men in their lives not keep their promises. We’re in the sixth year of the program and really excited about it.
FRNJ: What are some of the other things Restoration Station is involved in?
Dorion Morgan: We just had a End of Summer Bash where we gave away school supplies, had haircuts for boys and hair-dos for girls. We made it more of a carnival style so it could a last hurrah of fun. We have a Christmas toy giveaway. We’ve been doing that for 12 years. Now we have 700 people show up to get toys and things. Toys for Tots have reached out to us and said we see you’re doing such a great job can we partner with you. It’s been a blessing and we have people come from all over.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Rowan College Burlington County. Joy and Dorion Morgan Photo Courtesy of Dorion Morgan Twitter
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