Seven people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisc., on Sunday morning Aug. 5. The suspected shooter was later killed in exchange of gunfire with police and is counted among the dead. Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek as people gathered for prayers. In response to this tragedy, the national leaders of the United Church of Christ have published a Pastoral Letter. Here is the text of that letter:
Once again, there has been shock in communities across the globe at the reporting of another mass shooting in the United States. Sunday's shooting took place during services at the Sikh Temple of Oak Creek, Wisconsin where men and women were targeted and shot because of their religious affiliation. The United Church of Christ stands with the Sikh community as we mourn this loss of innocent lives taken as a result of fear and religious intolerance. We stand with all communities of faith in this land who have been guaranteed religious freedom by the U.S. Constitution.
We lift our prayers on behalf of the many whose lives were impacted by this violent act. We pray for those lives that were lost, we pray the wounded and we pray for family members, friends and an entire community that grieves. We continue to pray for peace where there is unrest and fear, and for love and understanding that unites all creation. We pray for healing in the midst of brokenness that we all experience in moment such as this.
While the attention of the world is drawn to this sad event, we call on all who serve in leadership to denounce all forms of religious and racial bigotry that result in the violence and senseless loss of life such as that experienced by the people of Oak Creek on Sunday.
In peace and solidarity,
Karen Georgia Thompson, Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations
and the Officers of the United Church of Christ,
Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President
W. Mark Clark, J. Bennett Guess, M. Linda Jaramillo, James Moos