In a Dialogue of Faith, Hayward Sikhs and Christians Shared Worship Space

October 26, 2003

Source: The Daily Review,1413,88~10975~1724744,00.html

On October 26, 2003 The Daily Review told the story of how Sikhs and Christians in Hayward have transformed dialogue into an opportunity to live, literally, side by side. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal, a founder of the Sikh Temple of Hayward, said that "the property on which the Sikh Temple stands could very easily have been bulldozed and sold to the highest bidder, if not for an agreement with Trinity Episcopal Church. In 1991 the church, which owned the land, decided to sell it. Developers wanted to buy it, but it caught the eye of Sabharwal, who had served as general secretary at Fremont's Sikh temple for six years. Sabharwal said, 'I went to the reverend and said, 'Father, I know you will get hundreds of thousands of dollars more from them, but they will bulldoze the property. We are the right kind of people, why don't you let us buy it? Give us a year.' So they did. During that year, the church allowed the Sikhs to hold their services on the property, as long as the services were at different times than those of the church. Meanwhile, Sabharwal was approved for a loan that paid for part of the property. He started a foundation to pay for the rest. In October 1993 the four acres of land at 1805 Hill Ave., including two assembly halls, 16 rooms and eight restrooms, became the property of the Sikhs. Sabharwal said, in an odd twist, the situation was reversed when the church attempted to purchase land in the Hayward hills. 'The city would not allow them to buy land in the place they wanted, so I said, 'You allowed us to hold services here before we owned the land -- you stay here as long as you want,' Sabharwal said. 'They stayed for four years. Two religions holding services in the same place -- can you imagine that? I've never seen such cooperation between two religions.'"