The Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community has agreed to collaborate with a national faith-based initiative to empower communities and families by liberating them from consumer debt.
The predominantly black Baptist organization announced a new partnership with dfree — a trademarked initiative founded by a New Jersey pastor who in 2003 devised the strategy as a way to raise money to pay off the church’s debt — during Lott Carey’s 119th annual session Aug. 15-19 in downtown Philadelphia.
Rather than asking cash-strapped parishioners to dig deeper into their pockets, Pastor DeForest B. Soaries Jr. set out to help members of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J., fix their own finances so they would be in a better position to give more to their church.
In 2005 Soaries offered his model for a “dfree lifestyle” — living without debt, deficits or delinquencies — to churches, credit unions and colleges and universities across America. The program was featured in the third installment of CNN’s Black in America documentary “Almighty Debt,” which aired Oct. 21, 2010. The following year Soaries launched The Billion Dollar Challenge, a national initiative with the objective of leading families to pay down one billion dollars in consumer debt.
“Consumer debt grips millions of people with plastic shackles every bit as powerful as the iron chains that once bound slaves,” Soaries wrote in his 2011 book dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery.
Acknowledging that some might find the analogy an overstatement or even offensive, Soaries insisted “that enslavement is the only adequate word to express the dire, life-draining, debilitating condition in which we find ourselves today.”
“Consumer debt enslaves millions of people in our country with debilitating chains that only seem to grow tighter each month as bills increase and income decreases,” the pastor wrote. “We’ve shackled ourselves with fear, stress and shame by spending far more than we’re taking in or saving. However, the time has come to emancipate ourselves.”
The new collaboration with dfree® Ministries will provide discounts on products to Lott Carey network churches to promote eliminating debt.
“We’ve joined dfree® because its goal of financial freedom fits well with our mission and because it provides faith-based, practical methods that are transforming lives,” David Emmanuel Goatley, Lott Carey’s executive secretary-treasurer, said in a news release. “Financial freedom is a foundational block for empowering families and communities. This is long overdue.”
Themed Missions Matters for Justice, Lott Carey’s 119th annual session drew more than 2,500 members to the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott. The session opened with 700 missionaries attending a prayer breakfast. Afterward more than 400 fanned out across Philadelphia for projects including preparing food for terminally ill homebound people, community gardening, serving in food pantries and meal distribution centers, and serving food to homeless residents.
Lott Carey’s board of directors affirmed progress reports concerning a national partnership for disaster services with the American Red Cross and a doctor of ministry in global leadership program partnership with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.
Other events included meetings of Lott Carey’s Pastoral Excellence Network with Black Lives Matter leaders and organizers and with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
Founded in 1897 by African-American Baptists committed to foreign missionary work on the African continent, the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community today helps coordinate the global mission work of the nation’s major African-American Baptist denominations and works with other Christian partners around the world.
The group draws its name from Lott Carey, a man born into slavery in Virginia who purchased his freedom in 1813 and led the first Baptist missionaries from the United States to go to Africa in 1821.
Pastor Alyn E. Waller of Philadelphia’s Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church is the group’s current president.