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UCLM President Reverend Lewis W. Stewart Passes Along the Legacy

By Tyronda James

Reverend Lewis W. Stewart III, stands with the “Passing on the Legacy” event keynote speaker, Rev. Lawrence Hargrave. Photo by Tyronda James/Minority Reporter Media Group.

Rev. Stewart has been a passionate leader and advocate for human and civil rights. 

In 2013, he helped found the UCLM, through his work with UCLM, Rev. Stewart has initiated projects such as the Coalition for Police Reform, Community Healers Adopt-A-Block initiative, and Partnerships in Excellence: Achieving Careers and Education with BOCES2–a program dedicated to aiding adults over the age of 21 to obtain their High Equivalency diplomas.

UCLM recently hosted a worship celebration and awards ceremony November 17 at First Church of God, 334 Clarissa Street, Rochester NY, as the baton was passed, welcoming incoming President Rev. Dr. Dwight Fowler.

“The work that you do to better our community and our world is so very important and so worthy of recognition,” said Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans.

Mayor Evans proclaimed November 17, 2022, a day to celebrate Reverend Lewis W. Stewart and UCLM of Western New York. “It is an honor to be here to recognize Rev. Stewart …and to celebrate the work of this man and the work of UCLM,” Evans said. “Rev. Stewart we salute your efforts. Not only have you spoken up, you stepped out to be the change that we all wish to see. Your leadership has influenced UCLM to make a difference.”

UCLM is a Black-clergy led civil and human rights organization primarily focused on monitoring and repairing the criminal justice system, especially as it affects people of color. They serves as an effective catalyst for racial and social justice, seeking to build a world without oppression, where all people are treated with dignity, equality and have basic civil and human rights, according to the organization’s website.

Former Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren came to honor Stewart and said, “when Rev. Stewart calls, that is a call you want to answer!” Warren previously gave Stewart the key to the city of Rochester, what she says is the highest honor a mayor can bestow on a citizen. “I honor you

Stewart has been instrumental in the city of Rochester in the formation of Criminal Justice Reform, Community Police Relations, Gun Violence Prevention and Advocacy. He was instrumental with the Civilian Public Safety Interview Panel, whose purpose is to enable community engagement as part of the hiring process for new police officers and is the concept of Rev. Stewart. Members of the panel interview and make recommendations on candidates for the Rochester City Police Department.

Rev. Stewart is an ordained Baptist minister at First Church of God, ordained in the Church of God In Christ, Inc. He is a graduate of Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozier Theological Seminary where he majored in Systematic Theology and Church History and received a Master of Divinity Degree.

Personally, shared a testimony that he said has impacted him deeply, a testimony of overcoming obstacles relating to his health. Stewart said he beat cancer twice. He said through all of it, he has fought a good fight and kept the faith. In 2010, Stewart said he was given a life expectancy of 5 years and with a more recent diagnosis he was told 6 months, however he was an overcomer.

Stewart has had to overcome things in life, he said he thanks God and is pleased, trusts and finds comfort in passing along the legacy to Dr. Fowler legacy that he has been so instrumental in.

Incoming president, Fowler has been involved with UCLM since its beginning. Fowler said he’s looking forward to continuing the much needed work with the Rochester Police Department (RPD) as well as the Rochester City School District (RCSD) and strengthening UCLM’s powerful ministries for justice.

Fowler said he is especially interested in expanding the programming in order to reach out to our city’s families, supporting them in raising strong, compassionate, educated and peaceful children who will be actively and productively advocates for the well-being of our community.

Remembering and reflecting on Stewart’s myriad of accomplishments, keynote speaker and retired American Baptist Minister, Reverend Lawrence Hargrave said Stewart was always strategic, steadfast, and was that he was not silent.

“And when you look at what he’s done in a little more than ten years, it’s extraordinary,” Rev. Lawrence Hargrave. “What Reverend Stewart has done is strategically prepare for the change and leadership. He strategically prepared for the change and leadership.”

As Rev. Stewart passes the torch, the UCLM’s commitment to community will continue on. “We are proud of our accomplishments in helping to bend the arc, and we are committed to continuing this important and sacred work,” Stewart declares.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ““The arc of the moral universe is long, But it bends toward justice.”

“UCLM is in good hands with the Bishop (Fowler). We have every confidence and faith in him that he’s gonna broaden the vision, making UCLM more effective and drive on into the future.”