A Ravenna church is observing the second anniversary of a program founded in response to the growing opioid epidemic.
The Midnight Cry will be hosted at the United Church of Jesus Christ, 6589 Terrill St., Ravenna. The event takes place at 9 p.m. Friday and will last until after midnight, with food served after the service.
Deseree Perry, a member of the church, said the event was started after several people expressed concern about the toll that addiction was taking on the community. She said “everybody I know” has lost at least three loved ones to overdoses, and “when it’s a young person, that crushes their spirits.”
“It’s really a community-based program,” she said. “It’s part of the whole community.”
She said the event draws people from all over Portage County, as well as people from Akron, Cleveland and even from out of state. Many ask far in advance when the next Midnight Cry will take place.
“It has touched so many people,” she said.
The program takes place every other month, with the next event set in January.
She said many people struggling with addiction come to the events, including some who are still in rehab and others who have been sober for years. They are drawn to the event, she said, because they know they won’t be judged.
“When you invite an addict to church, you might get one to come on a Sunday morning,” she said. “But 50 to 60 will come on a Friday night.”
Over two years, she said, guests have included a recording artist form Pennsylvania and a football player who once was with the Detroit Lions before losing his football career to addiction.
“Sometimes people just want to know that they’re loved,” she said. “Addiction starts long before people get hooked on drugs. There’s a reason they get hooked. We make a way for people to tell their story so people will listen to them and nobody will judge them.”
Often, she said, people will see parallels between their lives and the…