Delivering Love in to the Sikh Community in Oak Creek
As most of you know, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was the site of a terrible act of violence on Sunday, August 5th, when an armed man entered the temple in Oak Creek and began shooting. Six people were killed and three others wounded, including one policeman who had responded to calls for help.
The next day, Standing on the Side of Love sent out a call to supporters throughout the country to submit notes of encouragement and support for the Sikh Temple. Over 2,000 of you responded!
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, minister of Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisconsin, worked closely with UU seminarian Schuyler Vogel as well as a local contact with Brookfield’s Sikh Temple, to make arrangements for the delivery of the messages to the Oak Creek Temple.
On the evening of August 30th, the Rev. Dr. Drew Kennedy from First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Rev. Dr. Tony Larsen from Olympia Brown UU Church in Racine, Schuyler, and I went to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. There we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Gurmukh Singh, who was our guide and host. The walls of the foyer and fellowship rooms were covered with banners from congregations and communities of a variety of faiths, all offering good wishes and support for the people of the Sikh Temple.
We had a good discussion about Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism and then joined their worship service. At the end of the service, during their announcements, we jointly presented the messages from Standing on the Side of Love and a booklet from the Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville (click here to see a copy of our remarks). Afterward, we joined in eating the delicious community meal (or langar) and chatted with several of the congregation’s members while we ate.
It was a humbling and inspiring experience, to see how this faith community has supported one another and reclaimed their space, which was so violently invaded. Mr. Singh took a few minutes to read some of the good wishes sent in from Standing on the Side of Love. He was deeply touched by the sentiments offered, and by the fact that so many people had taken the time to write notes of support. The members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin are grateful for all the support from other faith groups, and remain open and welcoming to others. I’m sure we all left with hopes of continuing to build relationships between all our churches and the Sikh community.