Confusion, anxiety, turmoil, uncertainty, and soul-searching mark the present mood of church life in Rochester, New York, in the aftermath of the confrontation between FIGHT and the Eastman Kodak Company at Kodak’s annual board meeting in Flemington, New Jersey. Race and job opportunities are not the only issues. Involved also is the future place of the church within American society. The action of the Rochester Area Council of Churches (RACC) in bringing Saul Alinsky’s FIGHT organization to the Flower City and the reaction of some churches and church members in repudiating RACC policy by withholding financial support are a foreshadowing of issues that few communities in the United States will be able to avoid. In the light of the RACC board’s painful reappraisal of the policies that have led to its present financial predicament, the question of social pressure and church policy ought to be of vital concern to Christian leaders and Christian laymen throughout the nation.
Rochester is an affluent and fast-changing city. For several decades people have been attracted to this scientific center by job opportunities and community advantages. More and more people, many from depressed economic areas, have been coming to the city. The large Negro population came in part to work on nearby farms and in orchards. Many migrants remained here because of the city’s liberal relief policies. Some of the adult migrants returned to the South for the winter, leaving their children behind with relatives so they could attend school. Long before the plight of these families became a recognized concern of denominational officials, the changing nature of the inner city and the problems of its churches cried out unheeded for attention.
The official ...1
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