Oak Creek Tragedy: A Response

Yesterday, a terrible thing happened here in the Milwaukee area. While men, women and children gathered for worship at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, a 40-year-old white male killed six individuals (1 woman, 5 men, aged 39-84), including the President of the Sikh Temple, and critically wounded three others, including an Oak Creek police officer.

This situation is heart-rending for all who have lost loved ones and for the Sikh community worldwide. Our condolences go out to the local Sikh community, as well as those from around the world who are connected to them.

These events are a shame for the greater Milwaukee area and our country. An appropriate collective response is to hang our heads in shame over this terrible act inflicted against people within our own community. It is not simply a Sikh tragedy, it is a tragedy for us together as a city and country to see something like this unfold in our midst.

Some people have asked me how we should respond to this situation as followers of Christ. The best response now is a mixture of prayer, listening, and tangible support as we would have opportunity. Here is a letter that I sent out to our congregation today:

Dear Eastbrook Family,

I am sure that you all are closely watching the news regarding the tragedy yesterday in Oak Creek at the Sikh Temple. This is a shocking and sad event for our city and community.

While there is still much to learn about these events, without a doubt we are called to love our neighbors. Please join me in praying:

  • That God would bring comfort to those who lost loved ones
  • That God would bring peace and healing to those who were a part of this terrifying experience
  • That God would give wisdom to the law enforcement officials who are investigating this situation
  • That God would bring reconciliation and healing to our city and community
  • That God would, as only He can, bring life and glory through this horrible event

As a church, we continue to watch closely to learn how else we can respond.


Matt Erickson

Also, friend of mine, Brian Hofmeister, wrote this advice on his blog earlier today:

As best I can tell, when there’s nothing to say it’s best not to say anything at all.  The best counseling you can offer is half listening, half prayer, and somewhere in the middle of all that you offer some encouragement or advice if God gives it to you.

For more background on Sikhism, please see the following links: