Franklin Township, N.J.—Some 50 Black pastors from across the country gathered recently to bond, network and learn more about strategies to lead their congregations and communities to financial success during the 5th Annual Financial Freedom Conference hosted by Rev. Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, in New Jersey.
The pastors came from as far away as South Africa and many states including Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
After a day of activities, the conversation turned to the fear that many young people, particularly those of color, are expressing now that Donald Trump is president-elect. Reverend Dr. Lee A. Earl, a retired pastor, now in Maryland, told the group what he recently shared with a young family member: “This is not the first time. If you think this is bad, you should have been here when (Ronald) Reagan was elected.” Reverend Earl went on to say all would be fine because “God always operates best in strange political climates.”
In the 1980s, the threat of “Reaganomics” encouraged local and then national Black pastors to form partnerships in ways that moved their focus from preaching and the internal workings of the church to community development, he said. At the time, Rev. Earl was a preacher in Detroit and crack cocaine was devastating neighborhoods. He and other preachers formed REACH (Reach Everyone, Administer Care and Help) to reclaim the neighborhoods and succeeded with unexpected new partnerships, including one with Black Muslims.