SOMERSET, NJ—On July 28, Reverend Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries, Jr. publicly announced his retirement from First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG), which will take place on November 15, 2020 after 30 years of leadership.
In the game of American Football, a quarterback is defined as the “signal caller” who directs the play on the field and gives executive direction to those on the offensive side of the ball.
To those familiar with the sport, the quarterback is considered to be the most glorified but the most scrutinized position on the field.
Since 1990, Dr. Soaries has been the spiritual quarterback, trailblazing pathways for the communities of New Brunswick and Franklin Township.
Like the many professional quarterbacks who redefined the position and ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Soaries has redefined the position of pastoral leadership within the church community.
“I have learned to accept problems as opportunities to create solutions,” Soaries says, according to his website.
In thirty years of ministry, Soaries has developed a solutions-based pastoral practice casting his net in the local church and community, the political sphere, and the financial sector.
Affectionately known as “DBS,” Soaries became the first African-American man to serve as New Jersey’s Secretary of State under Governor Christie Todd Whitman from 1999 to 2002.
The prestigious appointment came after years of community building in the New Brunswick area.
In 1992, he founded the Central Jersey Community Development Corporation (CJCDC) with a mission to rebuild communities, and revitalize distressed neighborhoods.
In 1996, he started the Harvest of Hope Family Network Services, which identifies, recruits, trains, and provides support for potential foster parents, before and after a child is placed in their care.
“The foster care system has become an incubator for the prison system,” Soaries said. “An effective way to decrease the prison population is by fostering and adopting children that need loving homes. That is what we have done for more than 1,400 children.”
Soaries made a run for US Congress in 2002, and though he did not win, he was appointed to lead the new Election Assistance Commission that was created by Congress the following year.
In 2005, Soaries started dfree, a financial freedom movement that offers strategies for becoming debt-free and achieving financial success.
“The last big hurdle for African-Americans to overcome is the lingering economic effects of centuries of injustice. Financial freedom is a must if we are to enjoy the benefits of our social advances and opportunities,” he added.
But few people know that Soaries has been active in the church, community, and business sector since 1968.
“The day the Dr. Martin Luther King was killed was the day that I committed my life to activism and service,” said Soaries.
Even though he will step down as Senior Pastor of FBCLG, he will still be a “signal caller,” by providing executive direction in his many undertakings.
“I am retiring from my 30 year tenure as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, I am not retiring from preaching the gospel, writing books, serving on corporate boards, dfree, investing in real estate or mentoring young leaders. Those activities are life commitments.”
His latest pursuit is a book entitled, “Say Yes When Life Says No,” a memoir drawn out of his own personal experiences as a pastor, father, public servant, and cancer survivor.
In a time of spiritual, financial, and political uncertainty, this book, “shares with readers how to see every obstacle as an opportunity, every burden as a blessing, and how to say yes when life is constantly telling them no,” Soaries said on his website.
As he enters retirement and exits the proverbial field-of-play, he will continue to call plays from the sidelines by continuing to serve on the Board of Directors at Robert Wood Johnson Univerity Hospital.
He also plans to continue training future Corporate Directors, active within his dfree Global Foundation, and rebuilding communities–one family at a time.
Soaries leaves the leadership with a clarion call to have faith in God: “Never underestimate where God puts you and what God gives you.”