Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Justin Sicking

Since meeting at a Brownsburg carnival back in 1999, Brittany and Rashad Cunningham have experienced all kinds of ups and downs in their relationship.

“Things got extremely difficult out at Tri-West for me after I started dating Rashad,” Brittany remembers of her high school years. “I was getting death threats, and the school system wouldn’t intervene in any kind of way. I begged my mom. I was 17 and I said, ‘Mom, please, I need your signature to just sign me out of school.’ I was absolutely miserable.”

After going through this early rough patch, Brittany and Rashad’s relationship didn’t get any easier. The couple married in 2004 and had their daughter Genesis, but Rashad was dealing with his own demons.

“I was an alcoholic,” Rashad says. “I was addicted to porn. You name it. I cheated on my wife and was a deadbeat father for the first five years. We were just up and down from 2004 to 2011.”

It wasn’t until the Cunninghams attended a church in the Brownsburg area that things really started to turn around for the family. Rashad was first drawn to attend an event at the church called Soulful Saturday because of his love for hip-hop, but the family found themselves returning for more services at the church after an initial positive experience.

“I ended up surrendering my life to Christ, and my whole world got turned upside down in 2011,” Rashad says. “We switched around and became this Christian family. A short four years later, we were pastoring a church in Brownsburg called Church on the Rock.”

While serving as the pastor at Church on the Rock, Rashad saw his congregation grow from 20 to 300 over a five-year span. Eventually, he was asked to guest preach at Mercy Road Church in Carmel, which led him to the latest chapter of his life.

“The message was very well received, not just by the church but by the community,” Rashad says. “The lead pastor, Josh Husmann, reached out to me and asked if we could have breakfast. He said, ‘We could really use somebody, A, to preach the way you preach, and B, to come and start making moves in the community – moves that will stretch our community but also help it heal in ways that we’ve never seen before.’”

Mercy Road wound up offering Rashad a new position as the church’s teaching and community pastor. Initially, he says he and Brittany were wary about moving from Brownsburg to Carmel.

Meet the Cunningham Family

“We had our reservations about the north side,” Rashad says. “We grew up on the west side, and there’s a stigma about Hamilton County.”

After taking some time to pray on the matter, however, they concluded that the teaching and community pastor role at Mercy Road was perfect for Rashad.

“We came to the conclusion that the stigma was the exact reason we needed to be there,” Rashad says. “We believe in breaking barriers of all sorts – not just racial barriers but socioeconomic barriers, education barriers, tax-bracket barriers and anything that separates people. We feel like God has raised us to help people meet in the middle and see what it feels like to see people and not politics or Facebook posts.”

Since moving to Carmel, Brittany and Rashad have made their fair share of adjustments. While she’s enjoyed getting out to restaurants in the area such as Blaze Pizza, Brittany admits she’s not a fan of roundabouts. Rashad, on the other hand, loves them.

“After about three weeks of being out here, I was like, ‘This is the most amazing thing. There is never traffic,’” Rashad says.

Additionally, Brittany says she’s had to get used to the fast-paced culture of Carmel.

“When it comes to the people, it is a lot different,” Brittany says. “I feel like everywhere I go, whether it be the grocery store, Walmart or whatever, everybody’s in a rush.”

In addition to his role at Mercy Road, Rashad has also gotten involved with Synergize, a local group dedicated to making a community impact through meaningful relationships. Through all his work in the area thus far, Rashad has worked to meet Carmel residents where they are, in hopes of bringing them closer together.

“When there’s racial tension, I’m the one that goes in the middle to bring people towards each other,” Rashad says. “When people are fighting over vaccines or no vaccines, mask or no mask, Trump or Biden, I’m the guy that goes in the middle with no political agenda and no bent in any way.”

As the Cunningham family continues to make an impact in Carmel, they hope to leave a legacy rooted in bringing people closer to each other.

“I want to be remembered for showing the light,” Brittany says. “We’re different. We’re peacemakers. We’re not on one side of the fence. We’re not about the politics. We’re not about how much money is in your bank account. That’s just not us. We’re just cut from a different cloth.”

O’Malia’s LivingFor over 55 years, O’Malia’s Living has been bringing family, friends and neighbors together whether it is around the fireplace during the holidays, on the patio for summer evenings or together for a barbecue on the grill. The family feature recognizes local families who are part of our community. We are proud to support this monthly story in Carmel Magazine.

Comments 2

  1. Charles Ware says:

    Rejoice to see one our College of Biblical Studies impacting communities for Christ!

  2. Cheryl Fuller says:

    We so enjoyed seeing Rashad and Brittany featured in the Townpost spotlight. What a lovely and refreshing addition to Hamilton County. Fine job, Seth. My husband and I are members at Mercy Road and Rashad is the real deal. No one like the man. Looking forward to meeting Brittany soon.

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