Oak Creek Faith Community Bands Together, School District Offers Services After Temple Shooting
After the shooting Sunday at the Sikh Temple, Christian and Muslim neighbors have banded together to support the Sikh community while the schools will offer counseling during registration and services after school begins.
Within hours of the news about the mass shooting Sunday at a Sikh temple, members of the city's faith community and the school district had plans in place to help people deal with the tragedy.
Pastor Paul Armstrong and the congregation at Oak Creek Community United Methodist Church had a candlelight procession Monday night. The service included reflection, prayer and song followed by a candlelight vigil for peace and healing.
"We are not here for revenge or heightened conflict," he told the audience, "but as instruments of peace."
The Islamic Society of Milwaukee has offered a building to Sikh Temple members for worship.
"We visited them them after the tragedy and told them that until their sanctuary is restored, they can use one of our buildings," said Ziad Hamdan of the Society.
The Sikh Temple at 7512 S. Howell remains closed while the FBI and other agencies continue their investigation into why Wade Michael Page opened fire as worshipers gathered for service.
Hamdan also said the Society had been approached about holding an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, but those plans were not yet in place.
For children who might need some help processing news of the tragedy, Oak Creek-Franklin School District Superintendent Sara Burmeister said guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists will be on hand this week during registration.
"We want to help students who have family members connected to the shooting or may be affected in any way," she said.
The school district will also put a plan in place to help elementary students after school resumes. Burmeister said the protocol is similar to what the district did after 9/11.
"Kids keep seeing this on the news and hearing people talk about it. That can lead to them not feeling safe in the very places they should feel the safest," she added. "Pupil services has a protocol to help our younger students feel safe and we'll carry that into the school year as necessary."
"Our hope is that next Sunday (Aug. 12) will provide an opportunity for Christians to pray for the victims, their families, and for the Sikh community, which has experienced much tragedy and hardship in this country since the Sept. 11 attacks," the announcement stated. "We also hope next Sunday will be an occasion for Christians in Wisconsin to learn more about the Sikh religion."
Reverend PJ Mortenon from All Saints Lutheran Church said he will be at National Night Out at the Oak Creek Community Center and will attend the walk from the center to Miller Pond at Oak Creek High School.
"I'll be glad to support our brothers and sisters tonight and after if needed," he said.
Funeral services for the six slain temple members will be Friday from 9 to 11 am at Oak Creek High School. The service is open to the public.