HASTINGS, Minn. — An open community forum on the impact of the opioid crisis on the state and local levels will be held next weekend, hosted by St. Philip's Lutheran Church.

The forum will be held 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. St. Philip's Lutheran Church is located at 1401 15th St. W.

The morning will feature a presentation from the Minnesota Department of Health, as well as local EMS officers and physicians for a panel discussion. The forum will focus on answering questions about opioid abuse in Hastings and how the community is being affected by the nationwide crisis, along with how the community can help respond to the crisis.

The forum started as an idea for the church’s quarterly men’s meeting, put together by Dan Retka, a Learning Ministries committee member.

Retka went to Doug Schultz, another St. Philip's parishioner and information officer for MDH, asking about ideas for the next meeting. Schultz gave him a few ideas based on big issues that MDH has been seeing across the state, but the opioid crisis stood out.

“We both thought that the topic felt bigger than just the men’s meeting. We thought that it should be opened up to everyone in the community,” Schultz said.

The two started working together to bring both state and local resources to the table.

“We would feel the forum is a success if people who attend come away with one of two things,” Schultz said. “One, that they learn what they can do to help people that they know — that they love — through or overcome an addiction. Or, we hope, people will come away with ideas on how they can help their congregations or how we can, as a community, create opportunities to make an impact.”

Last year, nearly 30 Dakota County residents died from an opioid-involved overdose, according to data from MDH. Just over 100 county residents visited the emergency room for non-fatal opioid-involved overdoses as well.