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Press Release for Wednesday, November 8, 2017

OneJax Institute Hosts 100th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Gratitude Service

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The OneJax Institute at the University of North Florida will celebrate its 100th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Gratitude Service at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at Congregation Ahavath Chesed—The Temple, located at 8727 San Jose Blvd. A fellowship reception will follow at 7 p.m.

This annual service has taken place in Jacksonville since 1918 and pays homage to the sacred passages, prayers, songs and traditions that exalt the quality of gratitude for the community’s blessings.

“This is a remarkable milestone. One hundred years ago, Rabbi Israel Kaplan at the Temple on Laura and Ashley Streets, invited Rev. Walter Pierce at the Unitarian Church to join in a ‘Union Service’ on Thanksgiving Day,” said Nancy Broner, OneJax executive director. “Over the years, additional faiths joined in to offer thanks and gratitude for all we appreciate as a community. We look forward to celebrating with the entire community.”

The theme of this year’s special service is “Reasons for Hope” and will include a procession of faith leaders and clergy. Expressions of gratitude from each tradition will follow and will include representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Native American faiths, among others. An interfaith choir will also participate. This year, more than a dozen faiths and traditions will be represented.

“If ever there was a need to be reminded that we aren’t alone and that, despite our differences, we share many of the same values and beliefs, it’s right now,” said Broner. “Our world is divided, we’ve endured and observed natural disasters and have witnessed unexplainable acts against innocent victims. In the midst of all this, the interfaith service reminds us to treat one another with kindness, to be grateful for all that we have and to approach each other with compassion.”

The service is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring canned and dry goods, which will be donated to Feed a Needy Neighbor. RSVPs are appreciated at or call 904.620.1529.

Since 2012, OneJax has been an Institute at the University of North Florida. Through education, community building and advocacy, OneJax Institute works to make Northeast Florida a better place for everyone by celebrating differences and identifying all we have in common. Its core programs include Metrotown, an intensive, week-long teen diversity program; LOUD (Leaders of United Diversity), where Metrotown graduates bring the message of respect and appreciation for religious, racial and cultural differences into their schools; Interfaith and Community Forums, periodic forums for public dialogue on diversity and community building; and Advocacy, working to promote issues of importance to the OneJax mission.

In addition, OneJax partners with the UNF College of Education and Human Services on Project Breakthrough, an initiative to change the story of race in Jacksonville. The organization also partners with The Florida Times-Union, WJCT Public Broadcasting and the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission on Civil Discourse Forums, promoting civil conversations around difficult or uncomfortable topics and issues. For more information go to or call 904.620.1529.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.