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Profiling DeForest Soaries, An African-American Baptist Minister And Author

Profiling DeForest Soaries An African American Baptist Minister And Author
Profiling DeForest Soaries An African American Baptist Minister And Author

 

DeForest Blake “Buster” Soaries Jr. is a preacher, author, and former New Jersey secretary of state. Soaries was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 20, 1951. Both of his parents were West Indian immigrants, and his father was a minister. Soaries worked as a community organizer after high school, and then as a national coordinator for Operation PUSH.

Soaries then went on to work as an associate pastor at Mercer County Community College in Mercer County, New Jersey. In 1986, he received a bachelor of arts degree in urban and religious studies from Fordham University in New York City. In 1989, Soaries earned a master of divinity degree in practical theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Soaries was appointed senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, in November 1990. In 1992, he established the Central Jersey Community Development Corp., a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing neglected neighborhoods. He received his doctorate in ministry in Black church studies from the United Theological Seminary in Trotwood, Ohio, the same year. Soaries then worked as an assistant professor at Kean University and as a visiting professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Soaries established The Harvest of Hope Family Services Network in 1996. The religious organization seeks and trains churches, agencies, organizations, and individuals to foster and adopt children. The organization has placed 1,440 children in foster care, placed more than 270 children in permanent homes, and reunited 60 children with their biological families. He founded Corporate Community Connections Inc., a management consulting firm based in Somerset, New Jersey, in 1997.

Soaries was appointed as the 30th Secretary of State by then-New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, in 1999, making him the first African American male to hold the job. Soaries developed V-FREE, a statewide youth violence prevention initiative, while also serving as the governor’s unofficial advisor. He held the position until 2002, after which he became the commissioner of the United States Election Assistance Commission from 2004 to 2005. Soaries founded the d[ebt]-free Financial Freedom Movement in 2005, teaching people how to get out of debt.

Soaries has also served on the boards of Independence Realty Trust, Ocwen Financial Corp., and the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York as an independent director. The Soaries Adult Residence in Somerset, which bears his name, opened in 2014. The facility provides independent living with supportive services in 63 apartments for adults 55 and older, with an additional 13 apartments for those over 62 and those with special needs.

Soaries will step down as senior pastor in June 2021 after 30 years of service. He is still active in his numerous foundations and community organizations, and he has written three books: Say Yes to No Debt, 12 Steps to Financial Freedom, and Financial Freedom Meditations. Soaries and his wife, Donna, live in South Brunswick, New Jersey, and they have twin sons, Martin and Malcolm.

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Written by How Africa News

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