If Sunday morning is one of the most segregated time of the week, the dinner table probably nears the top of the most segregated places.
Wichita’s Beyond Tolerance Movement is working integrate both churches and dinner tables.
Their point – people too often interact with people similar to them – and because of it, people know very little about people outside of their race, culture, religion, or sexual orientation.
Organized by a group of religious leaders, Beyond Tolerance has sponsored pulpit exchanges and on Feb. 28 will hold its 3rd Dinner Dialogues as a way to break down barriers.
At the Dinner Dialogues, individuals gather in groups of 8-10 in private homes to share a meal, engage in a moderated discussion about challenges we all face. The dialogues provide an opportunity for people to create relations with people of all racial, cultural, religious or non-religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations. Individuals are allowed to share their experiences, and listen to the sharing of others in a safe, respectful environment.
Beyond Tolerance Wichita was formed after the 2015 shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston S.C. In response to the tragic death of nine worshipers, Wichitans held a local prayer vigil that attracted a diverse crowd.
At one point, a leader at the event noted it was good to have so many White sisters and brothers among the predominantly African-American crowd.
That comment sparked a realization among several of the leaders: “for as diverse as the city of Wichita is, we are still a very segregated city and the different racial communities barely even know each other.”
After the vigil, Bishop Wade Moore of Christian Faith Center and Reverend Sam Muyskens of Global Faith in Action, organized a group of religious leaders to begin to find a way to bring our city together.
“At that planning meeting we noted often we simply just tolerate each others presence. We felt that we need move towards something more,” explained the group leaders on their website.
Global Faith in Action, a nonprofit founded by Muyskens, had held some dinner dialogues previously. Beyond Tolerance continued the concept but held the dialogues in people’s homes
Come to Dinner For the events to truly be effective, diversity of participants is needed. That diversity must include diversity of races as well as ages. Diversity of sexual orientation is also sought.
If you think it’s something you would like to participate in, sign up online no later than Tues., Feb. 20 online at
www.beyondtolerance.org or by calling 316.269.0635. The free, vegetarian dinners will be a private homes around Wichita on Thurs., Feb. 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. When participants sign up, they are asked their race, age and religion to make assignments as diverse as possible.
The discussion is moderated and begin with an introduction followed by scripted questions. Everyone must listen to everyone’s answers without interrupting, questioning or commenting.
“Last year, people ate together who had never visited in a home with someone of another culture or religion, Moore told the Wichita Eagle. “What came out of it was a better understanding of people’s history, of where they come from, some things they’ve been through, and that gives people a better understanding of that person and they move beyond just tolerating that individual to really understanding them and knowing why they live the way they live.”