Blessed in Destin: A blessed tradition on the waterfront (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

Tina Harbuck

For almost six decades now, members of the Destin church community have offered up blessing over the fishing fleet for safety on the seas and a bountiful year to come.

And Thursday was no different as 152 boats filled with crew, family and friends made their way through Destin harbor as part of the 59th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

VIDEO: Silver King gets blessed at Blessing of the Fleet

Priest, 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 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.

VIDEO:" Another view from the blessing >>

“I wouldn’t miss this,” said Capt. Mike Dates, who has participated in the event for 15 years. “It’s what binds this community together.”

Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em has participated in the blessing since 1981.

“It’s part of our fabric of our local community,” Eller said. “This is what makes it special. … It’s an important part of our year.”

Capt. Nick Kirby has taken part in the annual blessing for the past 16 years.

“It’s a time to give thanks for why we are here,” Kirby said. “To thank the Lord for all our blessings.”

Offering up testimonies at the worship service were Capt. Casey Jones and Capt. Steve Gilbert.

“God is great,” said Jones, who then he proceeded to tell his acronym for GOD.

“G is for give it up,” he said and let God take control. “O is for obey. Obey what he wants you to do. And D is for delivered,” noting that the gifts God has delivered to us are divine.

Jones said nothing is too big for God.

“You don’t need a psychiatrist … get off your back and on your knees,” Jones said.

Up next, Gilbert talked about how he had tried everything this world has to offer, but was not satisfied.

“When I gave my best shot to God, I haven’t looked back,” Gilbert said.

Then Rev. Ron Browning of The Mission Anglican Church brought the sermon.

He referenced Ephesians 1:18-20.

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,” Browning said.

“God sees us before we were marred,” Browning added. “We see a lump of coal, but God sees a diamond … what we were supposed to be. God sees the person inside that is trying to come out.”

Browning encouraged the captains, families and friends to recognize the riches at our disposal and the power through God to achieve.

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 with all the fixings and fellowship was served up under the big tent. Brotula’s Seafood House provided the food.

Area churches participating in the Week of Blessings include Coastline Calvary Church, Corpus Christi Church, Destin Church of Christ, Destin Assembly of God, Destin United Methodist, Destiny Worship Center, First Baptist Church, Grace Lutheran, Immanuel Anglican, Impact Life Church, Safe Harbor Presbyterian, Shoreline Church, Summit Church, Village Baptist and Vision Church.