Interfaith prayer service Sunday centers on call for hope and unity

A special service Sunday at the Sikh Society of Dayton temple focused on messages of hope, peace and solidarity in the wake of last week’s Oregon District shooting.

The event comes a week after the mass shooting at Dayton’s Oregon District, where 10 people were killed, including the shooter, 24-year-old Connor Betts and his sister 22-year-old Megan Betts. Another 37 people were injured.

Dr. Darshan Sehbi organized Sunday’s event, inviting people of all faiths to come together in prayer at the center, 2320 Harshman Road.

“We are here to mourn the senseless loss of life in the early hours of Sunday morning a week ago in the Oregon District in downtown Dayton,” Sehbi said. “With this tragedy our memories go back to August 2012 when a gunman entered the Sikh temple, we call it Gurdwara, in Oak Creek (Wisconsin) and killed six people.”

Several people took to the podium and offered prayers.

Dr. Pratibha Phadke-Gupta, a Hindu community member and founder of Optimal Health Consulting LLC, encouraged those in attendance to share good deeds because you don’t know when you will “take your last breath.”

“This is a sad moment for us to pray for all the victims who lost their lives without knowing that where we are going today and they will not be able to return,” he said. “It is so sad to see that they went there for entertainment for a happy life, but guess what happened ... You never know when is your next time - when it’s going to take your last breath. Whatever we are today, at least we can share our good deeds with others. God has made everybody equal.”

>> 30-second reign of terror: How the Oregon District mass shooting unfolded

Furaha Henry-Jones, poet laureate and English professor at Sinclair Community College, offered a prayer for God to “still the waters” of pain and suffering as a result of the tragedy.

“God knows that pain has this ripple effect. Drop, and then the concentric circles. Lord I’m asking you to please still the waters,” Henry-Jones said. “Allow the mothers, the fathers, the husbands, the wives, the children, the cousins, the aunties, all the family for those who were lost, please still the waters Lord. We know that it will take time. This has been a storm in our community ... But God is in control.”

Dr. Pramod Aghamkar, of Satsang Ministries in Dayton, told the crowd we have no clue what’s going through the hearts and minds of those who were affected.

“When we go through this kind of situation, very tragic and very unfortunate ... this is probably the least we can do. We can support the families who have been hurt. We can encourage the families. Not only that, but we can also bring, try to bring peace and harmony and unity in the community through such prayers.”

Guy Jones, a member of the Lakota American Indian tribe, thanked the Sikh leaders for organizing the inter-faith event and having an opportunity to pray together.

“In creation there is a duality that stems from the oneness of all that is,” Jones said. “From that duality we begin to see our path and our journey. We look to that one source, and that one source teaches us and gives to each and every one of us, a path. Those paths all bring us back to that oneness and our experience and how we arrived ... It is when we come together in this circle of humanity then from that comes the beauty of the one. We have the ability to create when we come together. When we come together then we begin to see the beauty of the oneness that is all.”

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