Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Dadeville Shooting

April 17, 2023

Dear Friends,

Sometimes the words do not come easily. Like now in what we say to the families and friends of those injured and killed at a Sweet 16 birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama.

It is unfathomable to think that attending such a gathering puts our young at risk. As does going to school, church, the grocery store, malls, ball games, social gatherings or any number of other public and private places that are a part of the fabric of American culture. Yet that is the reality.

What happened in Dadeville this past weekend reminds us that no community is immune from violence. More than 160 mass killings* this year shatter the illusion that these kinds of tragedies only take place in other locations. And that any age demographic is spared. Victims include the old, young and in-between as well as people from various ethnicities, backgrounds and life situations.

No, the words do not come easily. “Work for improved gun safety laws” applies. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” is relevant. But, truly, even those statements sound insufficient when offering them to a parent whose teenage child was shot and killed at a birthday party. Or a guest at the same party who witnessed four friends killed and many others wounded. Even as we offer words of prayer and advocacy, we know it is not enough.

Still, our words make a difference. Our prayers are foundational for change. Jesus words in The Sermon on the Mount set a standard. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) The words of The United Methodist Church Social Principles calling for ways to advocate for gun safety laws give us direction.

So, though the words do not come easily, they are important. Words we pray. Words Jesus spoke in The Sermon on the Mount. Words calling for action as found in our United Methodist Social Principles.

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
Holston and North Alabama Conferences

*In 2012 the U.S. Congress defined a “mass killing” as three or more people killed in a single incident.

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