Black church to launch Billion Dollar Challenge

Billion Dollar Challenge set for launch during dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium


National Initiative Website Goes Live on October 19th – With Sun Life Financial as First Corporate Sponsor


Somerset, NJ ( — Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.  announced that The Billion Dollar Challenge website will be launched during the opening night of the dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium on October 19th, 2012 at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG), located at 771 Somerset Street, Somerset, NJ.

The Billion Dollar Challenge is a national initiative whose goal is to lead families to pay down one billion dollars in consumer debt. The Challenge emerged out of the dfree® financial strategy, which was first introduced to a nationwide audience in the special airing of CNN’s documentary Almighty Debt and featured its author, Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., Senior Pastor of FBCLG.

“According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, American consumers are carrying $11.44 trillion of debt not including mortgages. Although this debt actually decreasing, high levels of consumer debt still plague the country; furthermore it is a threat to family stability, mental health and financial security. Millions of people are drowning in debt and looking for relief,” said Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., Senior Pastor of FBCLG, and an independent director of Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. “The Billion Dollar Challenge is being offered as a motivational strategy and online tool to create a new culture of personal financial responsibility,” he added.

As part of the two-year anniversary celebration of the CNN special feature, “Almighty Debt,” the new website for The Billion Dollar Challenge will be unveiled during a Friday night presentation at the dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium – a free, two day event that will celebrate the progress that many churches and groups from across the United States have made helping their members attain financial security.

Dr. Soaries will also recognize Sun Life Financial, a provider of employee benefits, which was the first partner and sponsor for dfree®. Sun Life Financial has supported the expansion of the dfree® strategy to reduce financial stress in the workplace.

“Sun Life is honored to partner with dfree® to show how leveraging employee benefits opportunities can help U.S. workers maintain a sustainable path toward financial security and help meet The Billion Dollar Challenge to reduce consumer debt ,” said Wes Thompson, president of Sun Life Financial, USA.

The Billion Dollar Challenge contributors and sponsors include:

* Sun Life Financial, first corporate sponsor of The Billion Dollar Challenge;
* Black Enterprise, national media partner for The Billion Dollar Challenge;
* HomeFree – USA;
* New Jersey Black Issues Conference;
* Hill Harper, award-winning actor and author;
* Tisha Campbell-Martin, actress;
* Cappie Pondexter, WNBA All-Star & CEO OF 4 Season of Style Management; and
* Dr. Randel Pinkett, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, and Winner of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

“By joining The Billion Dollar Challenge, not only is a person taking a concrete step towards their own personal financial freedom, but they’re joining with thousands of people around the country moving towards the achievement of our Billion Dollar Challenge,” noted Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. “This tool is unique in that regard – there is nothing elsewhere like it.”

Established in 2005, dfree® is a national economic empowerment movement involving individuals, churches, student groups, community organizations and credit unions. With a grassroots approach that mobilizes people to use existing resources for managing and using money, the dfree® strategy is delivered through education, celebration and support.

For more information about The Billion Dollar Challenge, visit

About the dfree® Lifestyle Weekend Symposium:
October 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the screening of CNN’s Almighty Debt: Black in America documentary which featured First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, Rev. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., and dfree®. This symposium has been created to show the progress that we’ve made since the screening of to highlight the churches, organizations and individuals who have chosen to join the dfree® movement and most importantly, to give those who haven’t heard about dfree® an opportunity to learn how it can help them to achieve FINANCIAL FREEDOM & ECONOMIC EXCELLENCE!

About First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens:
Founded in 1937, First Baptist of Lincoln Gardens is a vibrant community-focused, multi-cultural 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.” First Baptist bears witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ for spiritual, educational, economic and community transformation. In October 2010 CNN featured First Baptist in the two-hour documentary “Almighty Debt”. For more information on the church and its ministries, visit