The late Minister Franklin D. R. Florence, I. committed his life to the task of preaching the Gospel. In his youth, he was one of the "boy preachers" who traveled extensively as teenagers with esteemed ministers such as Evangelist Marshall Keeble.
Prior to accepting the pastorate of the Central Church of Christ, he served as Pastor of the West Palm Beach Church of Christ in Florida, and for several years as the pastor of the Reynolds Street Church of Christ (now known as the North Greece Church of Christ).
Franklin D. R. Florence, I. is well known in the Rochester, New York Community and nationally as "Minister Florence," the name that became synonymous with his social activism as the first President of the F.I.G.H.T. Organization (Freedom-Independence-God-Honor-Today).
His activism was fueled by his strong conviction that Christians and the church must be leaders in causes for social justice and equality. His conviction has not always been deemed favorable in many religious circles where the thought was (and often remains) that the church should separate itself from the social/political arena.
Although Minister Florence is no longer with us, he continues to be remembered as a dynamic personality and visionary leader. He was blessed to see - and countless others to enjoy - the rewards of his social justice efforts. The Rochester community and area communities owe him a debt of gratitude for the sacrificial work he did in helping to open doors to fair employment and subsidized housing. He was also a consistent voice and presence for quality academic and social education in our public school system.
Minister Florence was also intricately involved in programs to improve correctional institutions, and he was one of the Ministers who labored so desperately to prohibit the massacre at the Attica Correctional Institution in the 1970's. His papers that document his involvement in this crusade and others are on file at the University of Rochester Library.
As a spiritual man deeply committed to preaching the gospel, Minister Florence made many sacrifices for its furtherance. As a "Much-in-Demand" speaker, he was called to preach for gospel campaigns all over the United States. Untold numbers of people have committed their lives to Christ as a result of Minister Florence's "Scripturally Sound" preaching and teaching. Because of his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, his spiritual insights, and his tenacity, he was frequently called to local and out-of-state congregations to help solve problems to bring about greater unity in the “Body of Christ.”
In 2022, Minister Florence, along with Malcolm X and Former Legislator Connie Mitchell, was honored by the placement of a large mural on the East High School building. The mural depicts a picture of the three Civil Rights Leaders that was taken in 1965, when Malcolm X visited Rochester (NY).