The Vision of Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Wheeling (ISSO of Chicago) is to be a pillar to practice the teachings of Lord Shri Swaminarayan and help expand the fellowship under Shri Laxminarayan Dev Gadi – Vadtal (diocese), established by Lord Shri Swaminarayan.
The mission of Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Wheeling, IL (ISSO of Chicago) is to be a pillar for Shri Laxminarayan Dev Gadi – Vadtal (diocese) as established by Lord Shri Swaminarayan. We shall:
• Make our temple the focal point and forum for preaching and practicing the teachings of Lord Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan
• Worship the established Murti of Bhagwan and perform with faith and all the prescribed daily rituals.
• Provide means to promote regular Bhajan, Katha, Shibir, and other religious sermons.
• Celebrate all Hindu religious festivals with appropriate confinements as established by Lord Shri Swaminarayan.
• Spread the teaching of Lord Shri Swaminarayan using all traditional and modern media, such as printed publications, online live telecasts, audio, video, and social media appropriately, and regularly publish the temple’s periodical ‘Shriji Sandesh (the message of Lord Shri Swaminarayan.)
• Facilitate the imparting of Hindu philosophies to the next generation of devotees, Provide children a fun, engaging environment to learn the history of the Hindu dharma and Lord Shri Swaminarayan.
• Promote welfare of community by contributing to health and human services along with cultural and heritage activities.
• Manage and coordinate support for achieving the mission using appropriate means.
As Indians immigrated to Chicago throughout the 1970s and 1980s, they all had one thing in common: they kept God with them every step of the journey for it reminded them of their roots. This allowed them to continue their Bhajan-Bhakti even after arriving on foreign soil. Satsang in the Chicagoland area began in the early 1980s with devotees gathering at each other’s homes on weekends to do Satsang. Each of them brought food from home to be served as prasad. During big festivals such as Diwali, they would rent a hall so that there would be enough room for everyone to attend the sabha. Each time they gathered for Satsang, more and more devotees would show up which made it difficult to hold sabha at each other’s houses which prompted Satsangis to rent Oakton Hall for weekly Satsang Sabhas.
As time went on, devotees realized that they could not keep renting out a facility to do Satsang so they began looking for a permanent place to worship. At first, they were searching old buildings and old churches to fit their needs. However, those available were not big enough which prompted them to build a grand mandir. They chose the town of Wheeling, IL to build a mandir because it was centrally located which made it an ideal location for all devotees. On August 10, 1988, the land at 397 Northgate Parkway was purchased to build a mandir. Devotees volunteered to cut down trees and clean the area so Bhumi Pujan could be possible. On October 20, 1988, P.P.D.D. 1008 Acharya Shri Ajendraprasadji Maharaj and Pujya Santo performed Bhumi Pujan and blessed the Satsang Mandal on their building of a new mandir.
After submitting blueprints for approval, construction began in 1990. Many devotees showed up daily at the construction site which saved a lot of money because at the time, the budget was tight. They helped tie reinforcement bars, excavate the land, and even pour the concrete. On certain days, workers and devotees stayed past midnight to keep on working. It was these type of sacrifices that were done to please Maharaj and allowed the mandir to become a reality. Many devotees were starting off their careers and were faced with economic hardships, but they did not let that come in the way in the building of the mandir. On May 8, 1991, construction was complete. This would not have been possible without the blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and P.P.D.D. Acharya Maharajshri along with the generous donors ranging from $101 to $40000.
For Murti Pratishtha, the entire Dharmakul parivar arrived to celebrate an historical event. On May 26, 1991, Acharya Maharajshri installed the murtis of our beloved Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shri Laxminarayan Dev, Shri Narnarayan Dev, Shri Radha Krishna Dev, Shri Sita-Ram Bhagwan, Shri Parvati Mahadev, and Shri Kashtabhanjan Dev. It was also on this day that our mandir was presented with the titles Vadtal Dham, Vadtal of USA, ISSO Of Chicago, and Member if ISSM. Our mandir was the first Vadtal Gadi mandir abroad and the first Swaminarayan Temple to be built on virgin land in the USA.
The mandir today continues to be run completely by a dedicated team of volunteers and by the youth wing, SGBYM/LNDYM Chicago. This dedication has allowed for our Satsang to continually attract more devotees, especially those who grace our sabha through our live stream every Sunday. Swaminarayan Mandir Wheeling has been the pioneer in the growing trends throughout the Sampraday from being the first mandir to ever Live Stream sabhas to being the first mandir to offer food catering services. As we go into the future, we hope to continue these practices in order to promote and spread the valuable teachings of Lord Shri Swaminarayan.