Smokers stolen from church, but the barbecue goes on

Competitive barbecuer cooks up pork to help others
Jun. 05, 2013 @ 05:39 PM

WHAT: Fundraiser to “Bring Back the Butts” barbecue smokers stolen from Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church
WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Mystery Brewing Company
437 Dimmocks Mill Road, Hillsborough

There’s a good chance that if you’ve eaten some pork barbecue in Durham, it was smoked by Al Myers. For an April fundraiser at Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church, Al Myers cooked 630 pounds of pork butt. That’s a lot of barbecue, and it took three days to cook it all. He also cooked 70 pounds of chicken and 70 pounds of brisket. After a long weekend of cooking, Myers locked and chained two 84-inch Lang smokers to the church. When he returned a few days later, the smokers were gone.
Someone stole the two smokers, cutting the locks and chains and hauling away the smokers worth $5,000 each. Insurance covered half of each smoker. These weren’t just any smokers. They were borrowed smokers from Myers’ competitive barbecue group, Up N $moke Barbeque, which competes in the Kansas City Barbecue Society. The pork barbecue Myers cooks here, for the record, is pulled pork style with two sauces – Eastern North Carolina and Western North Carolina to cater to different preferences.
Myers lends his barbecuing skills to benefit the military, as he is a veteran, too.
He has cooked at Fort Bragg twice along with Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, for an event called “Operation BBQ for the Troops.” He also barbecued at Carolina Beach for “Stand up for Your Soldiers.” And aside from his church barbecuing at Mt. Bethel Presbyterian, he has cooked for Duke Campus Ministries and Triangle Day School.
Myers remembers the first barbecue fundraiser at Mt. Bethel Presbyterian, which had a noon start time. Fifteen minutes to pork launch, he worried if anyone would come buy the barbecue. An hour and 20 minutes later, they sold out all 400 pounds of barbecue.
The Rev. Ingram Hedgepeth, pastor of Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church, said starting a ministry in a faith community needs one or more people who are passionate, and their enthusiasm leads others to serve.
“Al is an enthusiastic guy in a lot of areas, especially his ’cue. His passion to cook for others, whether locally at our church, or to feed our military families at Ft. Bragg, is contagious,” Hedgepeth said. “So, when Al cooks, it becomes an intergenerational event, from the retired folks working in the kitchen, to children and youth helping advertise and give directions. And, it reminds us of God’s call to feed and care for others,” he said.
Myers said the Mt. Bethel fundraisers help pay for youth trips, and another funded the playground renovation.
Selling barbecue seemed to be a way to raise money without going to the congregation to ask for it, Myers said.
“It’s been a nice ministry for the church, brought people through the church, and it’s some damn good barbecue,” Myers said. “It’s become a wonderful ministry for our church.”
Hedgepeth said a church member told him that “he would purchase all of the food, if Al and friends would cook, and give all of the money raised to a local nonprofit in which our congregation takes active role. Al has the ability to build community around his passion for cooking and feeding people.”
Myers daughter, Jessica Myers, works at Mystery Brewing Company in Hillsborough and has organized a fundraiser to “Bring Back the Butts.” A friend will cook the barbecue for the event to be held from 5 p.m. to midnight at Mystery Brewing. Barbecue sandwiches and sides will be sold, and takeout barbecue will be available, too, with proceeds going to pay off the stolen smokers and buy a new one. Barbecue fans can also purchase party packages that include Myers’ sauce and a “Bring Back the Butts” T-shirt.
Al Myers said he hopes the fundraiser will raise enough money for him to pay back the smokers’ owners and purchase a new smoker, which he’ll use once again for fundraisers at Mt. Bethel and for the military.
For information about the event or to donate, visit