The board of the United Christian Leadership Ministry voted unanimously to approve the Ontario County Justice Coalition as their new sister organization at an historic meeting held in Rochester, NY on February 19th, 2019.
The Ontario County Justice Coalition (OCJC, formerly the Ontario County Corruption Coalition), founded in Geneva, NY in 2018 with a goal of seeking justice, equality and unity throughout our community, had previously voted unanimously in January to join the United Christian Leadership Ministry (UCLM) as a sister organization.
Joining with the UCLM will allow the Ontario County Justice Coalition (OCJC) an opportunity to share resources and work toward common goals, said OCJC Founder Juanita Aikens.
“Ontario County and especially Geneva is well overdue for strong leadership that Reverend Lewis Stewart, UCLM President, has acquired over his longevity as a dedicated community activist. Reverend Stewart seizes every opportunity to advocate for those in need.” said Aikens. “Reverend Stewart, unlike other leaders, is not in a conflicting situation that would prevent him from carrying out his duties and is exactly what Geneva needs to begin the work that needs to be done so that healing can begin for the benefit of a better tomorrow and the building of stronger community.”
Aikens says that UCLM will share information with OCJC on developing and building partnerships to combat racial injustice and social and economic disparity, and to reduce crime and violence. UCLM will also act as an umbrella organization and provide administrative guidance. OCJC members will attend UCLM meetings and community events to provide support for the efforts of UCLM in the Rochester area.
“UCLM has worked tirelessly on reforming police-community relations in the Rochester area,” continued Aikens. “They have played a key role in the creation of recent legislation by Rochester City Council to create an effective Police Accountability Board, as well as participating in the drafting of the RPD’s body-worn camera policy, two areas of police reform that are deeply important to OCJC and the people of Geneva and Ontario County.”
At the February meeting, after introductions and an overview of the UCLM’s work, attendees discussed police-community relations in Geneva. Reverend Stewart encouraged OCJC members to change the public narrative that Geneva residents who respectfully challenge the police on their actions, decisions, and policies are “troublemakers.” The broad conversation covered topics including the Geneva Community Compact, Fair and Impartial Policing training, and Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalaqua. The role that community organizations, including the NAACP, and the interfaith community, specifically black churches, play in the city’s police reform efforts was also examined.
To mark the launch of the partnership, OCJC will be attending the UCLM 6th Annual Martin Luther King Worship Celebration at Pentecostal Miracle Deliverance Church (923 Portland Ave, Rochester) on April 7 at 4:00pm.
The public is also invited to attend the next monthly OCJC meeting on April 6 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church (70 Clark Street, Geneva).