'God driven': Annual Week of Blessings expands with two new events

Matt Algarin
Taking place on Ascension Day, local pastors gather to bless charter fishing boats and those who earn their living from the sea for safe passage and bountiful catches.

Destin's Week of Blessings will shine brighter as it expands in its 10th year.

"To be able to bring 17 churches together to honor our city is tremendous," said Mel Ponder, who is co-founder of the Week of Blessings, along with Capt. Mike Parker. "When the pastors come together hand in hand, that excites me as a man of faith and as a resident of Destin."

As part of the 10th Annual Week of Blessings, which takes place from May 5 through May 11, organizers have added two new events to the lineup.

On May 10, youth are encouraged to "bless" their schools while they wear specially designed T-shirts. On May 11, the Week of Blessings concludes with a "Saturday Celebration" at HarborWalk Village, which will feature local band Shake the City at 7 p.m.

"We already have a successful, faith-driven event in the community, but we wanted to do something youth driven," said Ponder. "We want to encourage the students to be a blessing to the school."

The week’s highlight is the annual Blessing of the Fleet — a tradition like no other in the city of Destin. Taking place on Ascension Day, local pastors gather to bless charter fishing boats and those who earn their living from the sea.

As the Blessing of the Fleet and the city of Destin grew alongside each other, Ponder and Capt. Mike Parker championed an effort to turn the event into a community-wide celebration. The Week of Blessings was born.

Joining together area churches, civic leaders and businesses for a celebration of faith, this year's Week of Blessings kicks off Sunday with the Blessing of the Families. The celebration continues with a citywide day of prayer and fasting on Monday; a pastoral lead team Ministry Day is set for Tuesday; and the Blessing of the Marketplace on Wednesday.

The marketplace blessing will be held in the Life Center of Destin United Methodist Church on Beach Drive from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The 56th Annual Blessing of the Fleet, which is held at the Fishing Fleet Marina at 210 Highway 98 East is set for May 9. The service begins at 4 p.m. and a fish fry for donations will follow at 5:30 p.m.

For more information about the Week of Blessings visit or find them on Facebook.

The entire community is encouraged to come out for this truly Destin tradition.

"The community can come together for something that is God driven," Ponder told The Log. "It's something that we can look forward to each year. It's amazing that God gives us the grace to put together an event that he is behind."