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Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. to Honor Community Leaders the 2020 FBCLG Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award
First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens
Jan. 17, 2020

SOMERSET, N.J., Jan. 17, 2020 /Christian Newswire/ -- Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG) in Somerset, New Jersey, will honor three community leaders Ryan P. Hagwood, Robert Rawls, and Michellene Davis on Sunday, January 19, 2020, at the 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. services at FBCLG. They will receive the 2020 FBCLG Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award. This award is an acknowledgement to those who serve as a champion for various efforts including, but not limited to social and economic justice.

Ryan P. Hagwood, President of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justices, will be honored at the 7:00 a.m. service with the MLK Social Justice Advocacy Award. He has served nationally as a social justice advocate and while Deputy Director of Litigation for the NACCP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Incorporation, he worked to create better opportunities in various communities for people of color including education, housing, employment, and a fair criminal justice system.

Robert Rawls, Fire Director of the New Brunswick Fire Department, will be one of the honorees at the 10 a.m. service receiving the MLK Public Service Award. Rawls has served and led the fire department for over a two decades. Not only has he taken on the task of saving lives and making communities more safe, but he works to change the community in a positive way by building relationships and partnerships with various community groups. Through past hardships, Rawls has been able to turn his negatives into positives to ensure a better environment for residents within Central New Jersey.

Michellene Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of RWJ Barnabas Health, will be honored at the 10 a.m. service with the MLK Corporate Social Responsibility Award. Davis was the first African American New Jersey State Treasurer, the first African American Chief Policy Counsel in the New Jersey Governor’s Office, and the youngest CEO of the $2.4 billion NJ Lottery. Over the course of her career, Davis has broken barriers and set forth to be a voice of equality while she challenged the status quo and became the first black person and woman to serve as an Executive Vice President at one of the largest healthcare systems in the country. Davis continues to work toward building a better future for residents of New Jersey by putting necessary policies in place and building community wealth.

"Dr. King was not just a dreamer, but he beloved in getting things done," said Dr. Soaries. "These three individuals have continued the legacy of impactful service in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. and their accomplishments have made a difference in our state."

The MLK Award recognition will be held at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, 771 Somerset Street, Somerset, New Jersey at 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. in the Main Sanctuary. All are welcome to attend.

About First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG)
Founded in 1937, First Baptist Church 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." FBCLG bears witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ for spiritual, educational, economic and community transformation.  For more information, visit

SOURCE First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens

CONTACT: Brianna Smallwood, 908-420-3745