Sikh Prayers at the American Civil Rights Anniversary in Washington

Sikh prayers were recited at an interfaith service celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Ha...

Interfaith Service brings diverse faith leaders together!

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Rabbi Schonfeld from NY, Imam Majid from VA, Cardinal Wuerl, Dr. Rajwant Singh and Pastor Wanrock from Atlanta during an interfaith service marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday at Shiloh Baptist Church in the nation's capital. (Pic by CNS/Matthew Barrick)

Washington, August 30, 2013: Sikh prayers were recited at an interfaith service celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Shiloh Baptist Church on August 28, 2013 in the morning. People of all faiths were represented as Sikhs, Muslims, Jewish people, and Catholics filed into pews to show solidarity with each other in the spirit of togetherness while marking this important anniversary. This Interfaith service, “Freedom: The Audacity to Believe,” was hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family and was organized by Joshua DuBois, Obama's former spiritual advisor and former head of the White House Faith Based Office and Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, head of the Skinner leadership Institute.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and Secretary of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, and various faith leaders joined Bernice King, the slain civil rights leader’s youngest child and CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, for a reflection on Dr. King’s legacy.

Bernice King told the congregation that while her father is rightly remembered as a “freedom fighter, martyr, and civil rights leader,” he was first of all “a man of faith.”

Singing in Gurmukhi, a sacred hymn from Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib, Dr. Rajwant Singh, with the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, spoke the words of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith. "He says in all of us there is a light. People like the Reverend Martin Luther King, those that are inspired by God, can reveal there is a light within you through their actions and wisdom," said Singh. This hymn was taken from the night time prayer of the Sikhs.

He said, “I come from a land where all great traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism emphasize that there is fundamental unity of Atman - consciousness - which is present in all.

“Nonviolence, being resilient in the face of adversity, and standing up for justice are the ideals that we bring to America”. He further stated, “The Sikh scriptures declares: ‘No one is superior or inferior; all are brothers and sisters; all should strive for the interest of all and progress collectively. No one is different from the other. We are all one.”

“Today, we want to express thanks to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr, for having impacted this nation in an extraordinary way and we salute him!

All those who suffered for us - the known and unknown martyrs of the struggle for civil rights - We salute them!

If we are enjoying the rights today in America, we know that someone took the blow, someone had to face dogs and water canons and someone marched in the face of hate! And we salute them.”

He challenged the audience by saying, “Dr. King’s vision of an American where people will not be judged based on their skin color is very important but the time has come that we also not judge others because of their dress and especially because of the color of their turban.”

This remark prompted a loud applause from the audience present in the church. “He further stated, “That vision of American requires that we do not put down others or shoot them down in a temple while they are worshiping or anywhere just because they look different or follow different tradition. America is more diverse than it was in 1963. So the present asks us to have an all embracing attitude.”

“Brothers and Sisters, our work is not finished – What kind of America do we want to see in the next 50 years – it depends on all of us. Let us all inspire the generations to come with our work NOW!”

He ended his remarks by singing a hymn from Guru Nanak ‘Vich duniya sev kamayeah’ and gave a meaning : while living in this world, act with compassion and serve others, this way surely God will embrace you and you will leave this world by being victorious.

Speakers from the different faith communities present reflected on legacy of Dr. King each from their own faith tradition.

The Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a retired Baptist minister and civil rights leader, reiterated Rev. King’s nonviolent message. “Nonviolence may not keep you safe, but it is saving,” he said.

He called on the congregation to share Rev. King’s message with the next generation because “our children and our children’s children must go on. … Each generation must climb higher and higher.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly in New York, said the March in Washington 50 years ago “re-enacted the walk taken by our biblical ancestors through the wilderness” and “his rise for civil rights was a proof that God had not forsaken humanity.”

Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of America, declared that Dr. King’s legacy “Made it possible for me to stand before you and made it possible for my five daughters to join hands with Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus to build a community that love one another, care about one another, and stand for justice and fairness for all," he shared.

Bhai Gurdarshan Singh, Granthi of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Arvinder Singh and Inderjit Singh, Board members of GGSF were present. In addition, Dr. Harminder Kaur Mangat, Hana Kaur Mangat, a high school student, and Nihal Singh, all belonging to GGSF congregation, also came early in the morning to be part of this inspirational program.

Bhai Gurdarshan Singh said, " Today is an important day for all of us when we all can come in the spirit of togetherness and it only due to the struggle of Dr. King and so many African Americans who paid the heavy price for all of us."

Inderjit Singh said,"The religious service at the Church was great and it was nice to see allall faiths coming together on this occasion"

Sikhs were also invited at the Lincoln Memorial ceremony where President Obama, Clinton and Carter spoke along with various national leaders.

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Sikhs met with several veteran civil rights leaders and associates of Dr. Martin Luther King. Congressman John Lewis, organizer of the youth involvement in the famous 1963 March in Washington and now a US Congressman. Also are seen Bhai Gurdarshan Singh, Dr. Rajwant Singh and Arvinder Singh

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National Religious leaders and youth leaders who spoke at the service marking the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King's speech 'I have a dream'.

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Sikhs thanked Don Lemon of CNN for his coverage of Oak Creek Shooting in Gurdwara where he and his team gave tremendous exposure to Sikhs and their tradition.

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Bhai Gurdarshan Singh, Arvinder Singh, Inderjit Singh, Nihal Singh and Rajwant Singh

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Bernice A. King addresses an interfaith service marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday at Shiloh Baptist Church in the nation's capital. King is the youngest child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (CNS/Matthew Barrick)


Related Article:

Leaders gather at Shiloh Baptist Church for service commemorating March on Washington

Delia Gonçalves @9NewsDelia

Aug 28, 2013: WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Celebrations to mark the anniversary of the March on Washington began with an interfaith service Wednesday morning at one of the oldest African American churches in D.C.

It is only fitting the service took place at Shiloh Baptist Church. After all, the church was among the first to support the controversial young minister who was seen as a rabble-rouser in the Baptist community. In 1960, 3 years before his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at Shiloh.

Photogallery (27K)Wednesday, nearly 1300 people walked into the Shiloh Baptist church, including celebrities and city leaders, to mark a movement that started in the church. King's daughter, Reverend Bernice King, spoke before the crowd as well as several religious leaders. The interfaith service brought together all races and all religions.

The struggle for jobs, education and equal rights continue. It's a challenge that the younger generation must face, a challenge posed to the congregation by a powerful young Reverend Otis Moss III, who says we should not turn the movement into a museum.

"Each generation must go higher and higher...keep on stepping," he said.


Related Article:

50th Anniv. March on Washington

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