A prayer vigil for the city of Bradenton and the United States is set for New Year’s Eve on the front steps of the Manatee County Courthouse.
“In Manatee County, we are running into a lot of darkness,” Joe Hamblen, executive director of Loving Hands Ministries said.
The overdose epidemic, homelessness and crime define that darkness.
Manatee County became the opioid overdose capital of Florida in the past two years. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigated 991 suspected overdoses and 77 suspected overdose deaths in 2016, the Bradenton Herald has reported.
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This is one of the best nights to be vigiliant.
Pastor Nelson Ferrer
Bradenton police responded to at least 280 overdose-related calls and 14 suspected overdose deaths in 2016. Palmetto police reported responding to 67 overdose cases and seven suspected overdose deaths.
Pastor Nelson Ferrer of Alive Church hopes others will join the vigil starting at 6:30 p.m. at 1115 Manatee Ave. W.
“We want to be vigilant and pray for everything in our city and nation,” Ferrer said. “The celebration comes at the end of the year. This is one of the best nights to be vigilant.”
Hamblen said the vigil is a way to come together in unity and pray for the new year.
The vigil is set to begin at 6:30 with introductions and recognition of each participating church and organization. Each ministry will be offered the opportunity to speak and pray.
Dismissal is expected about 8 p.m.