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Religious leaders encircle City Hall in prayer

More than 200 congregants representing a variety of faiths gather at the spot where Huy Pham died last week.

March 21, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com
  • The Fischbacher family, Emily, Kelly, and Adam, left to right, participate in group prayer at Costa Mesa City Hall on Monday.
The Fischbacher family, Emily, Kelly, and Adam, left… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — With heads bowed and the rain pouring over them, local church leaders and hundreds of congregants encircled Costa Mesa City Hall in prayer Monday.

Representing numerous faiths, they prayed in a show of support as the city recovers from the suicide of one of its employees and others who face layoffs six months from now.

"Today we're simply here to show support and love for our city in light of everything that's been happening," said Becks Heyhoe, an organizer for One Church for Our City, a coalition of Costa Mesa churches. "There's a lot of unrest and a lot of change. Morale has been low."

From noon to 12:45 p.m., more than 200 people, mostly congregants from local churches like Rockharbor and Soul Survivor Church, stood in prayer on the walkway lining City Hall. They were holding white roses.

Most stood in silence, others mouthing prayers, while the rain poured. Attendees left their flowers at the site after the vigil ended.

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"This is the community coming together as we deal with our grief," said Helen Nenadal, president of the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn.

The event was organized quickly via Facebook and e-mail following one of the most difficult weeks in modern city history. A separate candlelight vigil took place Friday night.

On Thursday, more than 200 layoff notices were distributed and 29-year-old maintenance worker Huy Pham, of Fountain Valley, jumped to his death from the top of City Hall in the hour he was scheduled to receive his pink slip.

A vigil remains at the site of Pham's death on the east side of the building. City employees were scheduled to gather there at 3:17 p.m., the time of Pham's death, for a moment of silence.

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