Rev. Buster Soaries, Jr.’s Story

In the decade following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, a young DeForest Soaries emerged as a prominent leader in the civil rights movement. 

By 1976, many believed he was next in line to be the leader who would advance Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community — where love and trust triumph over fear and hatred.

More than 50 years later, much has changed. But Buster’s commitment to finding solutions to the urgent problem of injustice remains the same. After decades of tireless work, frustrating setbacks, and steady progress, Buster Soaries is more confident than ever that, together, we can heal America.

Buster came of age in the days when Dr. King articulated his dream. Though only a teenager, the energy and excitement he saw in the freedom fighters of the 1960s inspired him to take a stand. He knew that justice was worth living for.

Buster rose as a leader in the movement. But he eventually decided to take a different path – the original path of Dr. King himself. He expanded beyond activism, and stepped into ministry.  

Reverend Buster Soaries had arrived.

As senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J., Buster has devoted himself to helping his community build up and out. He doesn’t want to just diagnose the problems that he sees. He’s far more interested in discovering the solutions.

He preaches on the things that matter most to his flock: educational excellence, economic empowerment, and managing day-to-day challenges. 

He runs one-of-a-kind projects that make a real difference for struggling folks. One helps families get out of debt. Another helps the vulnerable find the medical care they need.

He partners with anyone to do good, regardless of their political party or personal views. He listens to those who disagree with him, because he’s always looking for common ground.

Most of all, Buster preaches from his pulpit and advocates as a community leader the message of the civil rights movement – a message he has never stopped believing in.

Buster puts it best: “This country was founded on the loftiest principles of any country ever in the history of the world: Equal justice, inclusion, respect for the dignity of every person. 

“Those standards give us something to strive for, something to protest about, something to pray for, and something to work together to achieve.” 

The problems facing America are big, and Buster knows it. But he knows that they can be overcome. 

That we, together, can be the ones to do it. And that every person, no matter who they are or where they come from, has a role to play. 

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