Blessing of Marketplace drive-through style

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Due to COVID-19, it seems most everything is taking on a new look this year and the annual Blessing of the Marketplace was no exception.

Wednesday morning the Church of Destin gathered at three churches around town -- Shoreline Church, Destin United Methodist Church and Immanuel Anglican Church. From 7:30-9 a.m. people who make their living in the marketplace were encouraged to visit one the churches for a blessing on their business or profession.

RELATED: Couple weds with dockside ceremony, underwater photos in Florida spring

“I like it better this way ... it’s more personal,” said Eric Partin, pastor of Shoreline Church as well as president of the Church of Destin.

Usually the Blessing of the Marketplace is held in a big auditorium with a time of prayer for those who make their living in the marketplace whether that be in real estate or landscaping.

But due to social distancing and no gathering of big groups, they came up with the idea of blessing people via a drive-through at the various churches.

"I feel bad for the people that decided that they were not going to come because it wasn’t done in a big auditorium type thing where they get a general prayer,“ Partin said. “Here we are able to give personalize prayer for their business, their employees ... and a fresh word from God.”

By 8 a.m. they had only had a couple of businesses come through at Shoreline, but the people representing their business welcomed the prayer.

RELATED: Gov. reopens short-term rental properties in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Bay counties

“What a way to start the morning,” said Steve Wilson right before they drove off. Wilson and his wife Wendy came through for a blessing on their businesses and employees that work for them on the Bucaneer Pirate Ship and Southern Star dolphin cruise.

Every car that passed through the drive-throughs at the three churches also got a chicken biscuit compliments of Chick-fil-A.

RELATED: TRACK THE CORONAVIRUS: Interactive map from FDOH with updates and places

"It’s very cool,“ said state Rep. Mel Ponder, who was in attendance at the Methodist Church Wednesday morning. Ponder, who is one of the original organizers of the week of blessings in Destin, loved the idea of the drive-through blessing.

“In light of not having anything, to think out of the box and be creative and have this come through ... I love the idea,” Ponder said. “Chick-fil-A was able to bless us with some biscuits, so they get a blessing and a biscuit ... you can’t beat that combo.”

The Blessing of the Marketplace is purposely done in the morning hours to not interrupt the work day.

“We’ve had a steady flow of people coming through ... so I love what’s going on. It’s very personable,” Ponder said. “I think right now with the COVID, people need that individual encouragement.

"We’ve been apart and we’ve done the best we can to social distance and isolate but people are hungry for that personal connection ... even if it’s for just a short minute of time. People have been very thankful so far for that intimate connection,“ he added.