Sunday was supposed to be a joyous day for Pastor Tim Singleton and the congregation.
It was the day of the church’s annual picnic, and just days after the conclusion of a weeklong vacation bible school.
But as news of the began to permeate the picnic-goers, joy turned to grief and sadness.
“I was sick to my stomach. It was very sad,” Singleton said.
Just three months earlier, Singleton, four of Adoration’s congregational elders and Tim's son Nick visited the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, the site of Sunday’s massacre that left seven dead, including , and several wounded. The Adoration group was there as part of an interfaith experience.
Singleton, who has been Adoration’s pastor for nearly a year, said what stood out most about Sikh worship service experience was their hospitality and their food. The Sikh’s provide a snack before the service, a sacramental food during the service and a full meal after the service, Singleton said.
“They eat at every service. They provide a meal every service,” Singleton said. “That’s a deep part of their faith, to feed everyone who comes, no matter who you are. … They are very gracious, very giving. You eat your plate, and boy that’s good, and a guy comes by and gives you more.”
Beyond the food, Singleton learned more about the Sikh faith and their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Temple elders took him on a tour and showed him where the four copies of the Guru Granth Sahib “rest,” tucked in bed until the next service. He watched as the Sikhs chanted, sang and read from the holy book.
He watched a young Sikh, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s with two young children. And when word got out about the killings, he couldn’t help but wonder if that man, whose name Singleton did not know, was among the dead.
“During our visit, one gentleman said, ‘God brought you here to day,’" Singleton said. “They feel any guest is a godsend and they need to be open to that visitor and stranger being there. … It’s really sad (Page) took advantage of that openness, that hospitality.”
Singleton said he hopes great good comes from Sunday’s tragedy, that Americans begin to reflect on what this country is supposed to be about: a melting pot of every race, color and religion.
“People say America is a Christian nation. They’re wrong," he said. "America has always been here for everybody. Our founders were Christian but they set up this country to be interfaith. We’re not all Christians. And when you continue to hear this rhetoric, it leads to a nut job like this guy doing what he did.”
Adoration Lutheran Church will take up a collection at its service Sunday and will hand-deliver the offering to the Sikh Temple members when the Oak Creek temple re-opens.
“We’re going to bring them a gift, at least let them know that we’re with them,” Singleton said. “At least something tangible other than our prayers.”