ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester community is mourning the loss of a monumental social justice leader.

Reverend Lewis Stewart Jr. passed away in his home Friday after a long battle with illness.      

He co-founded the United Christian Leadership Ministry, alongside Reverend Dr. Dwight Fowler, who reflects on the legacy he intends to carry forward.

“It is a loss that can never be fully replaced with his charisma and personality,” Dr. Fowler said.

Reverend Dr. Dwight fowler is reflecting on the decades long work of the late Reverend Lewis Stewart Junior, who died Friday.

The pair first met in 1976, Fowler tells me, connecting over a passion for fiercely fighting for social equity, establishing the ‘United Christian Leadership Ministry.’

“Our goal was to combat injustices, in particularly police brutality,” Dr. Fowler said.

Now serving as president for UCLM, Reverend Fowler talks about how, under Reverend Lewis Stewart’s leadership, the group became a powerful voice for criminal justice reform.

“I would hope people would recognize him as being a drum-major for justice and as a liberator, who would speak truth to power, was not hesitant or fearful or afraid to speak out in regard to whatever the injustices or forms of oppression it was that was occurring at the time,” Dr. Fowler said.

UCLM was instrumental in helping to bring body worn cameras to the Rochester Police Department, along with Brighton police. The City of Rochester issued a statement in response to the Reverend’s passing.

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Reverend Lewis W. Stewart Jr. Throughout his more than 40 years of ministry, community, and civil rights leadership, he believed strongly in the prophetic calling for social justice. His commitment to the eradication of social, economic, and racial inequities has made an everlasting impact. Rev. Stewart consistently expressed a strong ethical and spiritual commitment to strengthen the voices of the Black community and firmly stood up against injustices. The City of Rochester will be forever grateful for his exemplary actions and ministry and send our condolences to his family and the many lives he touched.            

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans