Religion Notes: Vigil planned in Jacksonville for lost friends in Iraqi attack

By Jeff BrumleySt. Ephrem Syriac Catholic Church in Jacksonville will hold ceremonies today and Sunday to honor close to 60 fellow Christians, and members of its denomination, who were killed by terrorists in Iraq this week.
 The Rev. Selwan Taponi, pastor of the Kernan Boulevard church, said he served in the parish Muslim militants struck on Sunday.
 Taponi said the congregation that was hit is part of the same diocese as his Jacksonville parish and that most of his parishioners are Iraqis who lost friends and relatives in the attack.
 The congregation will hold a candlelight vigil for the victims from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. today and a special memorial observance at 1 p.m. Sunday. The parish’s 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday will also be dedicated to the victims, Taponi said.
 The church is at 4650 Kernan Blvd. Call (904) 998-7800 or visit for more information.
 Combating human trafficking
 Celebration Church in Jacksonville will host a five-mile Be Her Freedom Run beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
 The run is being held to raise money to combat human trafficking because Florida has been identified as a hub of the practice, the church said in a news release.
 “Human trafficking is a horrible injustice,” Pastor Kerri Weems said, explaining the church is cooperating with the A21 Campaign, a Greece-based organization that rescues and helps victims of trafficking.
 The entry fee is $35 or $15 for a one-mile fun walk. Last year, the event raised $7,000 for the cause. The race will begin and end at the church’s Midtown campus, 10302 Deerwood Park Blvd. Visit for more information.
 Mumbai attack memorial
 Chabad in Jacksonville will observe the second anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks with a special event for Jewish women at 6:45 p.m. Sunday.
 A Tribute to Jewish Heroism will feature lecturer Chaya Teldon. The event is dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg, who was the Chabad emissary in Mumbai when she was killed, along with her husband and visitors to her home, by the attackers.
 The cost is $10 with advanced registration and $15 at the door. Contact Chabad of Jacksonville at (904) 262-6641 or to make reservations.
 The event will be held at the Chabad house at 521 Florida A1A in Ponte Vedra Beach.
 WestJax open house
 WestJax Outreach Center will hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at 5126 Timuquana Road.
 The center is a Christian mission dedicated to helping the hungry, sick and poor. Its services include a food and clothing pantry, a pregnancy center and a medical and dental ministry serving uninsured patients who meet low-income requirements.
 More than 16,000 people were served by 63 volunteers in 2009. The open house is designed to create awareness and appeal for volunteer, material and financial support.
 Call (904) 573-1333 or visit for more information.
 Benefit to feed hungry
 The 26th annual Empty Bowls Luncheon to benefit Second Harvest North Florida will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville.
 Senior citizens organizations, professional artists and more than 50 schools are contributing to the creation of approximately 2,000 ceramic bowls to raise money to fight hunger in North Florida.
 The event includes a silent auction for bowls signed by celebrities.
 Luncheon tickets are $25 per person. Tables for nonprofits are $300 and corporate tables are $500. Additional scholarship tables also are available.
 Contact Tia R. Ford at (904) 739-7074 or visit for more information.
 Congregation to honor vets
 High Point Community Church in Orange Park will celebrate Veterans Day by showing the movie “Taking Chance” at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
 The film is a historical drama based on the experience of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, played by Kevin Bacon, who escorts the body of a fallen Marine from Iraq to his hometown.
 The film is suitable for viewers 13 and older.
 Call (904) 272-7949 or visit for more information.
 The church is at 84 Knight Boxx Road