One of America’s most successful churches is taking action to battle racism.
- Posted on Jul 15, 2020
This interview is part of our What Our Faith Calls Us To series.
In 2015, a white police officer in Cincinnati, Ohio, shot and killed an unarmed Black man during a traffic stop. The incident drew national attention and prompted Chuck Mingo, who is Black, to develop a racial reconciliation program at Crossroads, a megachurch where he is one of several pastors on staff. Crossroads, with roughly 38,000 members, is one of America’s largest and fastest growing churches.
The initiative, called Undivided, promotes diversity using education, Bible study, small groups and social activism. The congregation was galvanized by the program and Crossroads now helps other churches nationwide do similar work.
“God’s heart is for a church that looks like heaven,” Mingo says. “This is a part of the gospel. In Ephesians, Paul says Jesus came to break down the dividing wall of hostility and make one new humanity.”
At Crossroads, participants in the Undivided program were divided into racially-mixed small groups. Members studied biblical messages of inclusivity, learned about racial injustice in U.S. history, shared a meal and engaged in honest— and sometimes difficult—conversations about personal experiences of racism.
The groups were then prompted to use what they had learned to benefit the city of Cincinnati. Participants in the program campaigned for a citywide ballot initiative that raised property taxes to fund education. Backers of the ballot initiative credited Crossroads’ support with motivating voters in a city that typically favors low taxes and small government.
Similar change has come to other churches adopting the Undivided program. A few years ago, a Lutheran congregation in a mostly white suburb of Cincinnati formed Undivided groups with a historically Black church near downtown. The churches forged close ties and participants in the program went on to take joint mission trips. Members continue to meet and, in Mingo’s words, “do life together.”
“There is a beautiful promise on the other side of owning where we have fallen short,” Mingo says. The church is “an army of reconcilers. We’re an army of love.”