The Complex State of Race Relations Across the U.S.
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, to talk about the role of the church in meeting the multi-layered needs of the communities it serves, as well as complex state of race relations in the U.S. today.
"We are honored to be joined by a very good friend, Reverend Dr. Buster Soaries... DeForest Buster Soaries, Jr. Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Somerset, New Jersey? Yes sir. Good to see you my friend. Good to see you Steve. Good to see you. This must be a misprint. Why is that? Because 29 years? 29 years. You've been doing this? And you've known me all 29 years. I sure have. I sure have. And you have led a fascinating life and you have more important work to do. But let me ask you this. I remember when you took over... I was gonna say this parish! [laughter] Because my...! That's alright. This congregation. You have grown it in a way that no one could imagine. Maybe you were the only one. What have been the keys to that? A very progressive membership. Many people don't realize that a lot of ministers, including Martin Luther King, had great resistance within their congregation, relative to their vision. Martin Luther King had to leave his church as a civil rights leader, because his membership did not support his leadership. When he was in Montgomery. People don't realize that? And so the first thing I found at First Baptist was a vibrant membership that wanted to not only grow the church but wanted the church to be a catalyst for community development. And so I didn't have to fight the congregation. When we formed the non-profits to build housing, I didn't have to fight the congregation. When we bought an abandoned warehouse and turned it into a health clinic, the congregation was literally the wind beneath my wings. And so that's the first thing I attribute it to. 7,000 members? Well I see about 4,000 a month. But we've got the computer system. Right. Okay! [laughter] But you know what's interesting...? And let me disclose this. I often disclose that we have funders and different people we have relationships with, to be fully transparent. But to be fully transparent, Reverend Soaries married my wife Jennifer and I. Right. At the Newark Club. Right. 18 years ago almost... High class. [laughter] I wish the Newark Club was still there. It's interesting. I remember that process. You made us come in, you made us talk seriously about the commitment of marriage? Yeah. Your ability to be a spiritual advisor, or your commitment to being a spiritual advisor, is very real for you. Talk about it. Well you know, there's a quote in the Bible that says, "What difference does it make if you gain the whole world and lose your soul?" And it is in your soul that resides your values, your integrity, your ethics..."