Interfaith Day at Giving Machine Celebrates Service and UnityDec 15, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Margaret Snider
Darshan Mundy, director of public affairs at the West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara, addresses interfaith leaders at the Light the World Giving Machine Interfaith Day, speaking especially about Seva, or service. Photo by Steve Wiggington
ROSEVILLE, CA (MPG) - It was a special day for the interfaith community at the Light the World Giving Machines on December 7 at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.
The Light the World Initiative began in 2016 and the Giving Machines were added in 2017, now a Christmas time holiday tradition, at new locations every year. The event was covered by media including Fox 40 News, and Sacramento Faith TV of Rocklin with government and faith leaders visiting the event. Garrett Gatewood, past mayor and currently city councilman from the City of Rancho Cordova, addressed the group as well, speaking of the diversity of faiths represented in Rancho Cordova.
Sue Ramsden hosted along with Karl Cheney, program manager, both from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that sponsors the initiative. Cheney gave background and told of some of the experiences he had in Europe that helped to unite people and communities.
Ramsden introduced the speakers as each stood next to the Giving Machines to deliver his message. The first was Darshan Mundy, public affairs director for the West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. Mundy emphasized two words.
“One is called Seva,” he said. “Seva is service… the other one is care; we care for each other… caring for humankind is fundamental to the teachings of Sikhism.”
Mundy spoke of the meals that are served to everyone free of charge, “regardless of religion, gender, economic status or any other regard.” He told of the Sikhs serving hot meals in the Ukraine, how they serve in the forefront of crises like floods, fire, tsunami and wars.
“We are all equals; we are all members of one family. This means we all have the same rights, responsibilities, opportunities, and duties,” Mundy said. “We must rise beyond ego-centered ways and recognize the togetherness of the world… Seva should be the heart of all humankind.”
Akram Keval was invited to speak at the interfaith event on behalf of the Interfaith Councils of both Sacramento and Elk Grove.
“I am representing the Muslim community on both the boards,” Keval said. “In my opinion, it is every human’s responsibility to give back to the community through acts of charity. If we are able to empower those around us through food, clothing, monetary donations, or simple acts of kindness, what is stopping us?”
Islam also teaches the importance of volunteer work.
“In a society that works to make everything easier by having it at the quick click of a button, we are often disconnected from our communities. We recognize this issue and make it a point to volunteer our time to keep us grounded in our community and to ensure that we are part of them and not forgetting the needs of those that surround us.”
Deacon Dennis Gorsuch of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and the North State Ecumenical Council Conference spoke next.
“We are gathered today to celebrate the many ways in which our faiths show our unity by giving to those in need,” Gorsuch said. “The Roman Catholic Church has a rich tradition of lighting the world by serving people who are needy.”
Gorsuch stated that Jesus Christ taught us that we should love our neighbors. Catholics around the world have a priority to follow seven principles called the corporal, or material, works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and to bury the dead.
“We may take great comfort in the reality that by working together, through our respective faiths, we all may help bring harmony, compassion, mercy, warmth and light to our brothers and sisters in need.”
Karm Bains is the Sutter County District 4 Supervisor.
The basic tenets in Sikhism, Bains said, are, “to live honest, hardworking lives, be thankful, praise God’s name, and share with others. These same principles can be found in nearly every religion. We may worship differently, we may wear different items that are unique in our religion, our culture, but we have the same good intentions to help our fellow humankind, to spread the message of hope, to be honest and to share with others. Christmas is a holiday that is not exclusive to Christians. It is revered across many religions and is a time for us to come together and to celebrate the things that we have in common. I have found that we have more commonalities than differences.”
The group moved to William Jessup University, where they were fed with both food and information, and participated in table discussions.
“Our charge,” Cheney said, “is to focus on what brings us together, what connects us, and just be good neighbors. As a president of our church has said, ‘Make sure that you are the best neighbor that your neighbors have ever had.’”