An Open Letter on Dayton & El Paso


We all respond to news and tragedy differently. We all have different expectations of what public institutions and churches should say or do during this time.

Part of my role at SUMC is to help manage and organize communications. A lot of it is behind the scenes, but keeping content flowing on Facebook and Instagram, our website, etc. is certainly a big part of it.

So, in the wake of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton… I find myself in a bind.

How do I post something that shows support for those who are struggling without making it look like it’s a publicity post? But on the other hand… if we don’t post anything, how do we deal with the “how dare you!” backlash?

So, I feel that this post cannot just have a picture and a caption. All I can do is speak personally and do my best to navigate what I feel is a shared grief that we’re all experiencing.

I feel confident that I can speak for the rest of the SUMC staff and leadership when I say our hearts are aching over…

The loss of lives.

The fear instilled in those who were spared.

The in-fighting of our communities that will no doubt happen pointing to these horrific scenes as a catalyst.

You may have noticed a bit of a movement going around social media saying “‘Thoughts & Prayers’ are not enough!” I can understand that.

But, as followers of Christ, we are called to pray. So we will. But I think the only natural next step for us to “take action” outside of politics is to really love people. Not deal with people. Not ignore people. LOVE people.

If each church would wrap their arms desperately around their communities, by opening doors and hearts… God will change lives through us.

I encourage each of you to pray for “Shalom.” Shalom is a beautiful (in my opinion, nearly inexplicable) state of peace from God that we find mentioned in books like Psalms, Genesis, 1 Kings, and more. It is Completeness. Harmony. Wholeness. Welfare. Tranquility. A true Peace that passes understanding.

I heard a news report about children running for their lives to get out of the path of danger in El Paso.

I heard of a young mother who died shielding her 2 month old with her own body.

I heard of a man trying to literally pick up as many kids as he could to get them to safety.

For these people, and all impacted… I pray for peace that passes understanding.

I pray that these people will be able to look into the eye of this dark memory and say, “I see you… but I am loved, and that love makes me OK.”

As the ripples of these tragedies trigger debate, shaming, misinformation, rumors, and chasms between the aisles of our country… I hope that you join me in committing to be a peace maker starting right here at home.

Let peace fueled by the love of God be an unstoppable force in the face of evil.”

With Much Love & Many Blessings,

-Dusty Wallace

Director of Communications & Modern Worship

Sunbury United Methodist Church