Welcome new affiliate: Rochester ACTS

Posted by: Gordon on 5/6/2014

 The covenanting Sunday of Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society, Roc/ACTS, was several years in the making, but already the group has chosen issues to focus on and started planning for the future. 

“We are committed to change based on our faith and values,” said Father Robert Werth, co-pastor of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church.

Congregations in Rochester – among the poorest of cities its size (population 210,000) have attempted to deal with the city’s problems through charity and relief, but failed to achieve lasting progress, added Reverend Dr. William Wilkinson, pastor of Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church: “We conclude from our experiences that only systemic change will bring about the society that our faiths call us to establish,” he said.

Among the issues under discussion already, faith leaders from urban and suburban congregations are set to advocate for new resources to deal with homelessness, elevating a debate that has focused on what happens next at a county parking garage that became a de facto shelter and is now scheduled for closure according to sponsoring committee member Marv Mich. Later this week, the committee will meet to set the date for its first public issues assembly.

“Our faith communities can be very much involved in the problem-solving process in the Rochester area," Carlos Garcia, executive director, Partners in Restorative Initiatives told a local TV news reporter. “We are deliberately multiracial, urban-suburban, multi-denominational, nonpartisan, diverse, and grassroots focused. Our strength comes from our numbers and from the commitment of our members to achieving social justice in our lifetime.”

Leaders from 13 congregations and one Service Employees International Union local came together to found Roc/ACTS Sunday. In addition to the TV news report, coverage of the event included a public radio story and a newspaper story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
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