Faith, Race, and Politics

A conference exploring what role people and institutions of faith can play in navigating the complexities of faith, race, and civic engagement heading into the 2020 election season

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cincinnati, Ohio


Highlights from the conference. To watch any of the conference panels, visit us on  YouTube.


It’s January 2020, and here in the United States, we’re bracing ourselves for what is expected to be a rancorous election season. Impeachment hearings, a bitterly divided Congress, increasingly heated Democratic primaries, and widespread reports of paralyzing polarization. People are angry—or worse, feeling so overwhelmed and powerless to influence events that they may just be tuning out.

That’s one story. It’s real, and urgent. But there are other stories to be told—of people finding common cause, organizing, and working together to make real change. Around the country, often on a local level, people are discovering their collective power and using it to improve lives. Here in Cincinnati, Crossroads Church created Undivided, a program that brought diverse groups together for honest, often difficult discussions meant to help build bridges across racial divides. Those experiences in turn catalyzed participants into action, successfully advocating on behalf of Issue 44, a ballot initiative for a new tax that would support universal pre-K.

These are the kinds of stories we’re going to talk about today. Faith, Race, and Politics brings together community leaders, elected officials, congregants, scholars, faith leaders, philanthropists, and others to explore how the intersection of faith, race, and politics can influence both personal civic engagement and local policy. We’ll use the Undivided experience as a springboard to a broader discussion about what people of faith, civic leaders, and community organizations can learn about democratic participation and faith-based convening as we head into the upcoming election season.

As with all of SNF Agora’s events, this conference is an opportunity to share research and experience, to model inclusive dialogue, and to engage with audience members, whom we invite to ask questions of our panelists throughout the day.

During the conference:

Follow the conversation on Twitter at: #SNFAgora #crdsundivided


For a PDF of the full program, click here

9–9:30 am – Arrival

9:30–9:40 – Opening Remarks

  • Introduction: Elizabeth Smyth, SNF Agora Executive Director
  • P.G. Sittenfeld, Cincinnati City Councilman 
  • Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Hamilton County Commissioner 


9:45–10:35 am – Panel 1 : Undivided and Racial Reconciliation

  • Moderator: Doran Schrantz, ISAIAH Executive Director
  • Carolyn Heck, Undivided Justice Team Founding Member
  • Chuck Mingo, Crossroads Oakley Community Pastor
  • Cameron Smedley, Undivided Justice Team Coach
  • Lynn Watts, Crossroads Spiritual Growth Site Director

10:40–11:45 – Panel 2: Making the Radical Middle Possible

  • Moderator: Hahrie Han, SNF Agora Institute Director
  • Chuck Mingo, Crossroads Oakley Community Pastor
  • Brian Tome, Crossroads Senior Pastor

11:45 am– 1 pm – Lunch Break

1–1:50 pm – Panel 3: Case Study in Organizing: Issue 44

  • Moderator: Troy Jackson, Faith In Action State Strategies Director
  • Stephanie Byrd, CEO of American Red Cross, Cincinnati-Dayton Region
  • Elizabeth Hopkins, Issue 44 Advocate
  • Gary Lindgren, Cincinnati Business Committee President

1:55–2:45 – Panel 4: Faith, Race, and the 2020 Election

  • Moderator: Dave Campbell, Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy, University of Notre Dame
  • Imam Mohamed Omar, Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, Bloomington, Minnesota
  • Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, Temple Sholom, Cincinnati
  • The Rev. Mark Tyler, Mother Bethel AME, Philadelphia

Hosted by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University in partnership with Crossroads Undivided