The Luke Church Partners with Financial Giants to Bring Successful Debt Relief Solutions to the Houston Community
“Credit is a strategy and not a lifestyle,” words spoken by Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., who is the Founder and Chair of the dfree® Global Foundation which hosted the Financial Freedom Celebration Friday powered by Prudential and in partnership with The Luke Church in Humble, TX. Though the program can be used by anyone, Dr. Soaries is quick to point out, “It is our black people who are in trouble,” and he proudly says dfree® is “created for us and by us,” with a mission to provide affordable means for communities to have healthy finances.
The Luke Church is under the leadership of Dr. Timothy W. Sloan where the celebration of the “Financial Freedom” conference aligned perfectly with the vision of his ministry. “We are committed to financial and economic empowerment,” says the pastor. And such thoughts are the reasons Grammy, Dove, and Stellar award-winning Gospel recording artist, Fred Hammond provided uplifting entertainment at this year’s event with a message for the audience—”substance over style.” Hammond believes teaching (urban) public schools about finances early will make sure that young men and women have a secure future.
Twins of Media with Dr. (Pastor) Timothy W. Sloan— photo: C. Allen Photos
Thirty-five percent of black people can only put their hands on five-dollars—Dr. Soaries
As Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ, Dr. Soaries, Jr., sees the vision for the Financial Freedom Celebration expanding beyond Houston. He shared he’s excited about working with the black community to get people out of debt but says in all seriousness he’s not doing so for personal accolades. In fact, he jokes…”I’m old, I’ve already been appointed by the president twice (United States Election Assistance Commission) in reference to some of his career highlights. He only saw to start the program initially at his local congregation, but soon realized the need was greater for so many and the vision grew fast. “CNN came along and communicated they were looking for a church that focused on finances in the way I do with my church,” says the former Secretary of State (New Jersey). “Thirty-five percent of black people can only put their hands on five-dollars,” a percentage he quotes while adding, “we’re broke but we’re not broke because we buy hair, rims and designer clothes. But he’s transparent when he mentions his past spending habits involved driving around in a Cadillac where the car payments took up half his check. His reason? “To look like a preacher.”
This goes back to the “style over substance” mentality Hammond talked about as we spoke to him in his dressing room before he performed. “Credit is not income, he said before continuing his statement, “it’s for people who have money who prefer plastic as a better means to carry around,” we asked him what did he think the attendees from the evening celebration will take away?
“The importance of economic empowerment,” he said while looking up at the ceiling. “It changed my life.”
bottom (l) Gospel artist Fred Hammond; bottom (r) Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.
Acknowledge your finances are an issue – Dr. Timothy W. Sloan
The Luke is the “hub” place for other churches to follow suit to teach congregations about financial health and Dr. Sloan couldn’t be happier for the opportunity. “It’s critical for us to have the plan to deal with our finances,” he said. “One of the things we are discovering is when you talk about the gap between wealth and black America and white America—you find out it’s not about actual income but it’s about having access to information and how to manage it.”
Dr. Sloan’s involvement working with dfree® Global, as well as Prudential, teaches participants how to develop a strategy for managing and being a good steward over what we have and reducing the amount of debt incurred individually and as a community.
So, how do people take the first step to getting out of debt?
“Acknowledge your finances are an issue,” said Dr. Sloan. “Financial freedom is not being continually bound in debt with no way to manage your money.”
Sound advice from a leader whose focus is for monetary health in the black community to improve tremendously over time.
Thank you to Dr. Sloan, Dr. Soaries and Fred Hammond for their contributions in empowering financial freedom for the Houston community. We look forward to next year’s event.
More on dfree® Global visit: http://mydfree.org/