SOMERSET, NJ - A search for the next senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens is underway after the Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., recently announced his plans to retire after 30 years of service on Nov. 15, 2020. Pastor Soaries remains at the helm of FBCLG and plans to mentor his successor to create a productive transition for the church.

“From his innovative and empowering leadership to his current goal of leaving the Church in even better shape by focusing upon a Churchwide ‘period of recommitment,’ we have a lot to celebrate during Pastor Soaries’ 30th anniversary next year,” said Deacon Lawrence M. Hibbert, chair of the FBCLG Pulpit Search Committee. “Each and every one of our church members has important roles to play in selecting a worthy successor and ensuring the stability of our church during this transition period, which we know is led by the Holy Spirit and follows God’s will.”

Hibbert said FBCLG leadership has an awesome responsibility that it has taken very seriously, given Pastor Soaries’ noteworthy leadership in New Jersey, nationally and globally through efforts such as spreading financial freedom through the dfree® Global Foundation, which was born at FBCLG. Pastor Soaries, the Board of Trustees and the Diaconate have been engaged in some level of succession planning for the past two years.

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In a note about his retirement that was posted on social media July 28, Soaries said: “I am grateful to God for almost three decades of productive ministry and for having had such a supportive congregation. I am extremely grateful that I am healthy and available to participate in this transition that will usher in a new era of spiritual growth, educational excellence and economic empowerment. I also thank God for helping me change my lifestyle and begin saving money for retirement so I can afford to retire.

“I have been active in community, church, political and business activities since 1968 when I was a student at Montclair High School. God has blessed me with tremendous opportunities to serve culminating with my call to serve as Senior Pastor of this great church. As this season comes to an end, I would like to thank all of the members of First Baptist for allowing me to be their pastor for these many years. To God Be The Glory!”

Soaries also noted that while he plans to retire from FBCLG, he will remain active in his lifelong commitments to preaching the gospel, writing books, serving on corporate boards, dfree®, investing in real estate and mentoring young leaders.

Hibbert said that Vanderbloemen, the Houston-based church staffing and Christian executive search firm, has been retained and serves to help the PSC make a successful recommendation to the Church body, which votes to elect the pastor-designate. An election is being planned for some time after the new year.

“The Church body elects Pastor’s successor and that’s a powerful role,” Hibbert said. “We’ve also asked the congregation to pray during this entire process and to take advantage of all of the opportunities they have to share their candidate recommendations and their ideas and concerns about the future of our church and its leadership.”

While change is never easy, Hibbert said the PSC is focused on the following unique opportunities for FBCLG during the transition process:

  • It is an opportunity for the congregation to recommit and to come together prayerfully to thank God for the rich legacy of FBCLG and for the future blessings that God has for FBCLG.
  • It is an opportunity for the congregation to help sustain FBCLG financially through this succession period.
  • It is an opportunity for the congregation to find new ways to serve and to be involved in the various ministries of the Church.
  • It is a time for celebration and to show our love and thanks for Pastor Soaries and his family for their many years of service to FBCLG.
  • The succession is an opportunity to embrace a new leader who will build upon Pastor Soaries’ legacy and attend to FBCLG’s current needs while helping us set a new vision for our future, in tune with God’s plan for us.

Candidates interested in the search can find more information at:

About Pastor Soaries:

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. is known as an active agent for change and is a widely requested speaker. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, former chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former New Jersey Secretary of State. His pastoral ministry focuses on spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and faith-based community development. Soaries is the founder and CEO of the dfree® Global Foundation and author of several books including “Say Yes When Life Says No.” Soaries currently serves as an independent director at three companies: Independence Realty Trust, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and Ocwen Financial Corporation.

About PSC:

The FBCLG Pulpit Search Committee members are: Deacon Lawrence M. Hibbert, chair, of Somerset, who is the co-founder, president and managing partner of BCT Partners; Rev. Khristi L. Adams, of East Brunswick, the Firestone Endowment Chaplain and an instructor of religious studies and philosophy at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Rev. Adams also works as co-director of diversity and inclusion there; Victoria K. Alford, of Somerset, a global supply chain professional at Colgate Palmolive; Charles E. Corpening, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, the Chairman and CEO of Joshua Partners Private Equity firm; Erica Dixon, of Newark, director of merchandise planning at Macy’s Inc; Andrea Moten, of Somerset, the associate director, Human Resources for Princeton Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton University; Mason H. Powell, of Franklin Township, CEO of Mason Powell LLC; Valerie T. Williams, of North Brunswick, a New Jersey Department of Veteran Affairs vocational rehabilitation counselor; Patricia D. Williamson, of Old Bridge, the New Jersey Counts project director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; Ali K. Wilson, of Trenton, founder and CEO of Wilson Associates, LLC; and, Sean N. Woodroffe, of Montgomery, a Human Resources practitioner at TIAA.

About FBCLG:

Founded in 1937, First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens is a vibrant community-focused, multicultural and historical African-American church rooted in Baptist doctrine and is located in the Somerset section of Franklin Township, NJ. The church's motto is "Faith in Action." FBCLG bears witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ for spiritual, educational, economic and community transformation. For more information, visit