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DeWine, Whaley, others gather to pray, mobilize community following shooting

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2019 @ 5:58 PM

DeWine, Whaley, others gather to pray, mobilize community following shooting

Dozens of faith leaders met with Gov. Mike DeWine and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley Thursday morning for a private event, followed by a public prayer service and breakfast in the wake of the Aug. 4 mass shooting in the Oregon District.

DeWine presented his 17-point plan to curb gun violence to the audience. Attendees of the meeting said Mayor Whaley said she was in support of the governor’s initiatives.

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“Nan Whaley stood and said ‘I 100% support the governor’s initiatives.’ So you got those guys unified and that unified the whole room. Not everybody thinks alike, and that’s okay— we can disagree. Debate is good. But I’m not kidding you, it was really amazing,” said Cristy Kettering, vice president of development at 93.7 FM The Source, an Ohio-based Christian radio station.

Israel Baxter, Pastor, New Hope Life Chruch, during a prayer vigil hosted by The Tabernacle Baptist Church on Thursday in Dayton. Declare Dayton: A City-Wide Hour of Prayer featured local pastors who took turns praying and singing with participants for healing in the wake of the mass shooting and tornadoes. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

The event was closed to the media.

There were leaders at the event representing the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities, all with the goal of mobilizing the region to prevent another tragedy such as the Oregon District shooting, said Michelle Reynolds, director of the governor’s office of faith-based community initiatives.

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“From a political aspect, we can do certain things as government but we can’t legislate morality,” Reynolds said. “And so the church is now coming together to talk about what can we do in the community.”

DeWine and Whaley discussed proposals to improve access to mental health, improve background checks, increasing prison sentences and establishing a red-flag law. Faith leaders contributed their own input and ideas.

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“The meeting this morning was, ‘Let’s talk the nuts and bolts.’ There were 10 deaths recently in Dayton, Ohio because of a shooting. Are there ways we can make different decisions about who has a gun and when they have a gun that would make a difference?” said Caleb Ingram, executive director of Declare Dayton, a faith-based nonprofit who planned the event.

Participants sing during a prayer vigil hosted by The Tabernacle Baptist Church on Thursday in Dayton. Declare Dayton: A City-Wide Hour of Prayer featured local pastors who took turns praying and singing with participants for healing in the wake of the mass shooting and tornadoes. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

The prospect of reinstating mental institutions was a key part of the discussion, according to Reynolds, while the summit discussed mental health issues.

“There was conversation about, maybe we need to support our community by institutionalizing instead of deinstitutionalizing,” Reynolds said. “We’re not sure where those conversations will go, but that is something that stood out today.”

Ingram said the community needs prayer.

“I think gun control is a good conversation, mental health is a good conversation, prayer is a needed thing,” Ingram said. “But just respecting each other regardless of where we come from was a good thing to have on display to the community.”