“What do I do with the brokenness in this world?”
Pastor Chuck Mingo asked himself that question in 2014, while he watched the polarized reactions to the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively, at the hands of police. Mingo, a Philly native, decided to take action, founding UNDIVIDED, a racial reconciliation program at Crossroads, his predominantly white evangelical megachurch in Cincinnati. In the years since, a diverse mix of more than 3,000 people have gone through UNDIVIDED’s six-week course, which includes a novel homework assignment: Go out socially with each other.
“What I found is, nearly 50 percent of (the participants) had never had a person of a different race in their home and never had them over for dinner, so for me, that was a big ‘a-ha,’” Mingo told a local TV station at the time.
By design, the program forces its participants to confront their long-held beliefs and stereotypes. ”I am still trying to figure out the benefits I received but did not earn because of my race,” Mary Burns, a white parishioner, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You learn these benefits came at the expense of other people’s undeserved hardships. And you’re left asking, ‘What do I do with that?’ I know as a Christian that I have the responsibility to do something.”
Mingo says that UNDIVIDED is nothing less than “story after story of hearts being broken, and hearts being mended.”
Here he is explaining the genesis of the program, which he’ll expand upon at our Ideas We Should Steal Festival in a conversation that touches on faith and racial reconciliation with professor and best-selling author Rev. Michael Eric Dyson: