(SOMERSET, N.J.) Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, publicly announced today that he will remain at the helm of FBCLG into 2021 to help the church and community cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure a smooth leadership succession. His retirement was originally planned for November 2020.

“In these unprecedented times, stability in leadership is more important than ever,” Pastor Soaries said. “While, after 30 bountiful years, it’s certainly time for my transition, our church leadership has requested that I remain and I am deeply committed to FBCLG and all efforts to minimize the impact of this health crisis on our members and our community.”

FBCLG Deacon Lawrence M. Hibbert, chair of the Pulpit Search Committee, noted that the group was able to make progress in the search before the process was suspended due to the pandemic. He expressed the gratitude of the entire church for Pastor Soaries’ willingness to postpone his retirement.

“Pastor Soaries is one of our nation’s leading African American preachers and we’re so very fortunate to have his leadership through these challenging times,” Hibbert said. “We also felt it was extremely important to not ask for even greater sacrifices of the church that will send us our next senior pastor. We are hopeful that we’ll celebrate both Pastor Soaries and his successor in 2021.”

In terms of the disproportionately negative impact the pandemic and racism continue to have on African American and other communities of color, Soaries said he will continue efforts to focus attention on achievable solutions.

“Our communities are grieving, tired and angry but we’re also full of faith and hope,” Soaries said. “What I’ve dedicated my life to is giving people the practical tools they need to survive, thrive, give back to others and strengthen their connections to God.”

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 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