MyCentralJersey.com

Church's dfree Conference Focuses On Financial Freedom

The dfree movement, founded by Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries, will gather Oct. 30 and 31 at its fourth annual conference in order to launch a national strategy to end predatory "payday" loans

MyCentralJersey.com — Wednesday, October 28, 2015

By Bob Makin

Hundreds of black church leaders from around the nation will gather to launch a strategy to end short-term, high-interest lending on Oct. 30 and 31 during the fourth annual dfree Financial Freedom Conference at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in the Somerset section of Franklin.

The "payday loans" have undermined financial capacity among many black Americans, said Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., First Baptist's senior pastor, author of "dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery," and founding chairman of the dfree Global Foundation.

Soaries said, "Payday loans are the crack cocaine of the financial services industry. There are more payday loan stores in America than there are Starbucks and McDonalds combined. They are mostly located in black and low-income neighborhoods. This saturation of alternative financial outlets combined with a ubiquitous presence of these predatory products on the web makes the payday industry the most powerful threat to financial freedom we have ever encountered. It's time for black churches to do to predatory lending what we did to Jim Crow. We will launch our strategy at this conference."

At the conference Soaries will be joined by Keith Corbittm, vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending of Durham in North Carolina, and Beverly Ruggia of New Jersey Citizen Action. Both will be recognized by the dfree Foundation for their support for anti-payday lending activities.

Tom Byrne, chairman of the New Jersey Investment Council, also will be on hand to announce the Council's commitment to honor a request to divest the $50 million that it has invested in a hedge fund that finances payday lending. Soaries said the effort will strive to create alternative solutions for short-term loans of small amounts of money that banks do not provide.

The conference also will feature panels, workshops, resources covering a variety of financial topics, and practical tools and strategies for church and community leaders to help people achieve financial freedom. The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 31 at First Baptist, 771 Somerset St. For more info, visit www.mydfree.org.

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