Church of Destin looks to bring hope and unity through week of blessings

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

After a year of lockdowns and having to stay distant, the Church of Destin is ready to come together and unite for a Week of Blessings on May 9-13. 

The Church of Destin, a citywide group of churches — one church, many congregations — come together each year “to bless and contribute to particular organizations in the Destin community,” said Mike Parker, one of the organizers of the Week of Blessings that dates back to 2003. 

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This year will be the 18th year for the Week of Blessings in Destin, but the faith-based tradition goes back even further to the Blessing of the Fleet, which will be celebrated on the harbor this year for the 64th year. 

Staff and others at Immanuel Anglican offer a blessing to those in the vehicle as part of the Blessing of the Marketplace in 2020.

Last year during the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, Destin still celebrated the Week of Blessings, but with restrictions such as having business owners and people in the community drive through at Shoreline Church, Destin United Methodist and Immanuel Anglican for a blessing. 

This year, the Church of Destin is looking to get back on schedule. 

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“Honestly, it’s so exciting because it feels like the church community and the community are coming together again … strengthening and encouraging each other,” said Impact Church Pastor John Skiles, president of the Church of Destin. “It has been such a rough last year … that it’s just so exciting to come together.”

The week will begin with the Blessing of the Families on Sunday, May 9, at participating local churches. 

Monday, May 10, is set aside as a day of prayer and fasting. Tuesday, May 11, is pastoral ministry day. 

Wednesday, May 12, is the Blessing of the Marketplace. This year the event will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the new Destin High School on Commons Boulevard. Lunch will be provided by Chick-fil-A. 

On that day, people pray for the local businesses, law enforcement, firefighters, elected officials, medical workers, front line responders and educators.

The event is being held at the high school as a way to bring people together. 

“There are two different things that happen in a community that are big and bring people together: One is a church and one of them is a school,” Skiles said. 

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“So we just thought how amazing it would be to bring all that together under one roof at the new high school,” Skiles said. “To bring both the faith community and the community together. We’re not separate, we’re all one."

Mel Ponder chats with a man before he leaves Destin United Methodist Church after being blessed as part of the Blessing of the Marketplace last year.

Also on Wednesday, May 12, there will be a Blessing of the Youth event with pizza, worship and prayer from 6-7 p.m. at Clement Taylor Park on Calhoun Avenue. 

The week will wrap up on May 13 with the 64th annual Blessing of the Fleet. The event will begin at 4 p.m. with a captains' worship and prayer service under the big tent behind Brotula’s Seafood House Steamer. The public is encouraged to attend. Following the service, local clergy will proceed to the docks to begin the blessing of the fleet. 

Last year, even with COVID-19, more than 130 fishing boats and other vessels participated.  

Following the blessing, a community fish fry will be held on the docks behind Brotula’s. 

Eric Partin with Shoreline Church blesses a boat during the 63rd annual Blessing of the Fleet in Destin.

“The week coming up, it’s going to be so blessed,” Skiles said. “The fact that we’re doing (the marketplace blessing) at the new school … it’s going to have a whole different feel. It’s going to be more of a community opportunity, and we love that.

“And as the Church of Destin, we want to bless the community and bring them back together. When the world has been told to stay apart, and don’t do this, and we get the opportunity to come together," he added. “That’s what I’m all about: unity. I want us to come together.”

“Being spiritual leaders of the community, we love that we get to bless people of the community and give them hope. We want to bring hope in a time that has been so hard and so rough. The faith community brings hope,” Skiles said.