BLESSED TO BE BLESSED: 58-year tradition continues on the harbor

Tina Harbuck
Rev. Forrest Mobley, Immanuel Anglican Church, speaks a word of blessing as a boat passes throught during the 58th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

More than 150 vessels filled with crew, family and friends made their way through Destin harbor Thursday afternoon as part of the 58th annual Blessing of the Fleet, one of Destin’s oldest tradition.

Priests, pastors and reverends from the churches of Destin spoke blessing after blessing over the boats and crew as they passed by during the procession through the harbor that took more than a couple of hours.

But before the families and friends boarded the boats, they gathered underneath a big tent at Fishing Fleet Marina, behind Brotula’s Restaurant, for a worship service and a time of testimony.

Father Mike Hesse of Immanuel Anglican Church welcomed all in attendance.

Clergy from the churches of Destin read scriptures and led in prayer before a couple of our area fishermen gave their testimony.

Jayson Self, who works the deck on the charter boat 100 Proof, spoke first.

“The best thing mom and dad did for me was move here,” said Self, who moved here from California as a young boy.

Self told of struggles his family had been through, but “we always had faith that God would provide.”

He also spoke of how his dad passed away in February, but he still had faith.

Self encouraged those in attendance to “seek God and read the Bible. The Bible is truly the living word and still holds true today,” he said.

Capt. Bob Atwell of the boat Blanchita spoke of how he grew up on the docks, and how God and saved and protected him.

Bringing the sermon at this year’s event was the Rev. Caleb Miller of Immanuel Anglican Church.

“I feel intimidated,” Miller said, as he stepped up before the crowd of 200 or more.

He made referernce to having to follow Gov. Rick Perry who spoke the day before as part of the Week of Blessings and Mayor Mel Ponder. Then on Thursday having to stand before a front row filled with seasoned veterans of the church along with a pirate who was armed. The pirate was Capt. Cliff Atwell of the Buccaneer who was there to be blessed as well as support his brother Bob.

Miller spoke of light and dark in the world.

“This world is a dark place … we need the light of Jesus,” Miller said.

“Through Jesus we are redeemed from darkness into the light.”

He also told the families and friends of the fishermen, “Jesus offers salvation and safe harbor.”

Following the sermon, those gathered under the tent sang a song, and some came forward for the clergy to speak a blessing over them before boarding the boats.

As part of the evening, a fish fry and fellowship was held under the big tent, behind Brotula’s.

For more photos of the event CLICK HERE

Area churches participating in the Week of Blessings include Coastline Church, Cornerstone Presbysterian, Corpus Christi Church, Destin Church of Christ, Destin United Methodists Church, Destiny Worship Center, First Baptist Church, Grace Lutheran, Hope Lutheran, Immanuel Anglican, Impact Life Church, Safe Harbor Presbyterian, Shoreline Church, St. Andrew’s by the Sea Episcopal, Village Baptist and Vision Church.