Letter: Departing minister a community hero

From: Nancy Nyers

Columbus has claimed many heroes, and this letter is about a person who has been a hero to many. His name is Dan Wallace, worship and generations minister at First Christian Church for the past 19 years.

Sporting his quick wit and ready smile, Dan has been a hero to the needy kids by providing toys and clothes at Christmas, and to the musically-talented young people he has recruited from local schools to perform in the church orchestra, brass band and string ensemble.

He has been a hero to those whose family funerals he has preached and to the hospital patients who welcomed a ray of hope and sunshine when he visited them. He has been a hero to the widows whom he has often invited to dinner gatherings at his home and to those who attend the “Helping Hands” free meals that Dan occasionally helped host. He also set a high bar for the wonderful programs he has planned for “55 Fellowship” and the lunches he himself has sometimes helped prepare.

This selfless, energetic, hardworking, modest, multi-talented Christian man has contributed to the community by heading up the annual “Green-up” at FCC, recruiting workers and partnering with employees of Cummins Inc. to tidy up and make repairs around Columbus. He also started “A First Christmas,” (a Dickens village with a live manger scene) which FCC presented as a gift to the community for seven years, and he generated the idea for “A First Fourth,” a patriotic celebration held at several sites in Columbus.

His curiosity has led him to explore interesting places such as the top of the FCC bell tower and Indianapolis Farmers Market, where he took artistic photos, often submitting them to The Republic and putting them on his thank you notes. An accomplished organist and incredible pianist, he not only has played for FCC, but he also has accompanied young musicians, encouraging their musical development. He encourages “The Kingdom Kidz” (a group of elementary and middle school students) to sing regularly at FCC, and he frequently takes kids to entertain residents of retirement centers. His interest in ethnic diversity is evident in many choir and orchestral selections as well as the number of students from other countries who have played under his direction. He even learned to write his name in Chinese, Japanese and Spanish as a tribute to some students.

At a church celebration of his ministry, Dan was presented with a City of Columbus proclamation by Mayor Jim Lienhoop. He also was given a key to the city, and state Rep. Milo Smith of Columbus presented Dan with a Distinguished Indiana Hoosier Award, signed by former Indiana Gov. and current Vice President Mike Pence.

This man from Virginia has distinguished himself as a Columbus hero! Sadly, he is leaving to pursue a new vocation as a hospital chaplain in Norfolk, Virginia, and to be closer to his aging parents. No doubt he will quickly become a hero to those he serves in the South!