ST. JOSEPH — Dr. Sherry O’Donnell from the Rappha Medical Center in St. Joseph, with help from local churches, has organized a Unity Service that will be held from 7-9 p.m. Friday at the Howard Bandshell in St. Joseph.

The service will involve people from several local churches coming together to celebrate unity, along with police support in the community. Organizers said the goal is “to focus on God, family, community, and neighborly love and concern.”

O’Donnell said there will be various worship teams playing music, and 10 people offering words of encouragement. She said speakers will include Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, St. Joseph Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker, Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis, and seven church pastors from the surrounding area.

“I’m not doing this alone,” O’Donnell said, although the service was her idea. “I got way more support than I expected. The churches are happy to do it. The goal is to honor our police and one another, and celebrate our commonalities.”

The St. Joseph City Commission this week approved the use of the Howard Bandshell for the Unity Service. The approval was needed because there will be amplified sound, requiring a special event application.

St. Joseph city staff initially had concerns about the event as relates to social distancing, but O’Donnell confirmed with St. Joseph Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker that the gathering will be less than 100 people, and they will follow the state’s Executive Order for social distancing.

O’Donnell said people are encouraged to wear face masks to the event, and a limited number of masks will be available for people who do not have one.

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