‘A Celebration of Unity’: Destin’s 12th Annual Week of Blessings

Savannah Vasquez
A file photo of a past Week of Blessings event.

Before the busy summer tourist season, those of Destin’s faith community have a tradition; to bless the fishing fleet. This 58-year-old Blessing of the Fleet tradition has expanded in the past 12 years into a week-long event called the Week of Blessings that now includes the entire marketplace of Destin.

“It’s a celebration, where the faith-based members of our community come together in unity,” said Mayor Mel Ponder. “We’ve added on to the long-standing tradition of our city of the Blessing of the Fleet, and use the time to honor God, and seek his protection and blessing over the city.”

Mel Ponder along with Captain Mike Parker were instrumental in the founding of the Week of Blessings, as both brought the idea before Father Mike Hesse of Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin.

“It was about 12 years ago,” said Parker. “I was asked at the Blessing of the Fleet to pray. After I had given the prayer I sat down and started thinking, ‘What about all the other business people in the city?’ I thought that it would be a good thing for the other businesses to have the same opportunity as the fishing fleet.”

This year the Week of Blessings will launch a new day focused on the future generation of the city with the Blessing of the Youth on May 15.

“What excites me about the youth event is that this year the youth pastors of the different Destin churches have taken the event upon themselves to organize a beach day with activities for the youth,” said Ponder. “I’m really excited to see it come together.”.

Caroline Hare, the youth pastor at Destin United Methodist Church, said that this will be the first time a group of youth this size will be coming together from Destin area churches.

“We are excited to have 10 different youth groups come together as well as youth from the city to recognize that we all have common ground together,” she said. “We are blessed by God and that’s something to Celebrate. I’m anticipating students to come together in unity for Christ and I’m excited to join the other youth pastors and minister to youth of the city as a team.”

Ponder said that another exciting aspect of this year’s blessings week will be the guest speakers and performers coming out for the event.  

“We’ve got the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, coming to the Blessing of the Marketplace on Wednesday,” he said. “It’s really exciting to have someone of his caliber coming to the event. Also the band ‘Consumed By Fire’ will be playing on Saturday at the HarborWalk.”

Both Ponder and Parker said they hope this year’s Week of Blessing will reach the city and bring about unity.

“The most impactful thing about the Week of Blessings is the unity it has brought with the pastors of the city and the churches,” said Parker.

“It brings all the churches together to pray for peace and blessing over the city,” said Ponder. “It helps everyone to honor each other’s differences and come together to see that we are all one body in Christ.”

2015 Week of Blessings

May 10: Blessing of the Families at participating churches

May 11: Day of Prayer and Fasting

May 12: Prayer Team Ministry Day

May 13: Blessing of the Marketplace

11:30 a.m. Lunch at the Life Center in Destin United Methodist Church at 200 Beach Dr. Keynote speaker for the day will be former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

May 14: The 58th Annual Blessing of the Fleet. Destin Fishing Fleet Marina and Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer 210 Hwy. 98 East.

4 p.m.- Service

5 p.m.- Boat Blessing

5:30 p.m.- Fish Fry

May 15: Blessing of the Youth.

5-7 p.m.-The Shore at Crystal Beach public beach access. Youth in middle school and high school are welcome to enjoy games and food at the beach.

May 16: Blessing Celebration at the HarborWalk Village.

7-9 p.m.-Concerts by Consumed by Fire and Bonray.