Destin’s Week of Blessings continued on Wednesday with the Blessing of the Marketplace at Destin United Methodist Church and the Blessing of the Youth the same evening at HarborWalk Village aboard the Buccaneer pirate ship.

Charter boat Captain Mike Parker and Florida State Representative Mel Ponder started the Blessing of the Marketplace 15 years ago in accordance with the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

“The charter boat fleet was blessed every year for 60 years,” said Parker. "The fleet grew from just a handful of boats to the largest charter fishing fleet in the country, so we thought we should do something similar for the business people, the elected officials, educators, fire department, sheriff’s department, military and all other members of the community.”

This year's Blessing of the Marketplace started with a catered lunch provided by Ole Times Country Buffet and a prayer lead by Parker.

Twelve churches throughout the area attended the blessing to represent their congregations including Coastline Calvary, Destin United Methodist Church, Faith Assembly Christian Church, First Baptist Church, Immanuel Anglican, Impact Life Church, Impulse Church, Safe Harbor Presbyterian, Shoreline Church, Summit Church, Village Baptist Church, and Vision Church.

“I believe that the body of Christ plays such a key part in the city," Ponder said. "For me, when you look at Scripture, it talks about although we’re made up of many parts and many facets, we’re still one. Sixty-one years ago, the Blessing of the Fleet started out as one congregation in the city, and today 12 different congregations are present.”

Ponder said the purpose of the event is for people to come together as “the Church of Destin” to pray over the city as a whole.

According to Parker, towns in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Sebring, Florida, have adopted a similar Blessing of the Marketplace tradition after they heard about Destin’s annual Week of Blessings.

“This is a special time that we can look forward to each year to pray for one another,” Parker said.

In the evening at HarborWalk Village, the Buccaneer Pirate Ship was filled with teens from Destin Middle School and several congregations throughout Destin for the Blessing of the Youth.

“My calling has been youth ministry and the next generation,” said Destin United Methodist Church Next Generation Pastor Caroline Hare. “What better time than to bless our youth and call them to rise up and be a light in a dark world than the Week of Blessings?”

The kids danced and participated in team building activities before being blessed by youth pastors individually.

“I love coming here and spending time with my friends and learning about God,” said Destin Middle School eighth grader Kailey Fuzy.

The Blessing of the Marketplace and Blessing of the Youth ceremonies took place one day before the annual Blessing of the Fleet.