In a historical moment for the Sikh community in the US, a foreclosed building that used to be a Baptist church will be renovated as the first Sikh temple in Rockford, Illinois, media reported on Thursday.
The building on Kishwaukee Street and 3rd Avenue in the Forest City will be renamed as Nanaksar Sikh Temple.
“There is no temple in Rockford. This will be the first one. Some people told me that there are no gurdwaras here so we are doing this for the Sikh community," Wrex.com quoted Nanaksar Sikh Temple supervisor Babaji as saying.
There are nearly 100 Sikh families in the area. Right now, they drive all the way to Chicago, Milwaukee or Madison for worship.
However, the task of doing up the foreclosed building is daunting as $1,00,000 (around `64 lakh) worth of renovation work needs to be done.
The church pews will be removed and replaced by carpets. "Paint and carpeting is a huge project in this 30,000 square-foot building," Babaji said.
Any symbols of the Christian faith in the former church like crosses or stained glass will be preserved during the renovation work and will be donated to local churches or to the Salvation Army, the report said.
The temple will have a grand opening in April next year when renovations are completed but the Sikh leaders hope to start worship services in September this year.