Blessing of the Marketplace: A time of blessing and remembering

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

More than 200 people from the business community came out Wednesday for the annual Blessing of the Marketplace held in the Family Life Center at Destin United Methodist Church. 

“I’m thankful and grateful to be a part of it,” said Shane Moody, CEO and president of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, who served as emcee for the event. 

Pastor Eric Parton of Shoreline Church leads a prayer during the Blessing of the Marketplace.

Blessing of the Marketplace is just one of many events included in Destin’s 19th annual Week of Blessing put on by the Church of Destin. The Church of Destin, whose slogan is “one church, many congregations,” kicked off the week with a blessing of the families, followed by a day of prayer, blessing of the local government and then the marketplace. 

More local news:'Hometown pride at its best' shows up at Friday night football in Destin

More:Merri Willis retires from Destin Middle School, one of the last original

Pastors from nearly a dozen churches around town were represented and prayed for those who earn their living and work in the marketplace from realtors, educators to public servants. 

Community Pastor Matt Metcalf of Shoreline Church in Destin and this year’s president of the Church of Destin reminded the group gathered for the Blessing of the Marketplace how important legacy is.

In 2020, the Blessing of the Marketplace was done via drive-by in vehicles due to the pandemic with pastors laying hands on people through car windows and speaking a blessing over them. Last year, the blessing moved back inside and was held in the assembly hall of the new Destin High School. 

But on Wednesday, the Church of Destin showcased a video where they had talked with several people in the community about how they made it through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of April 2010. The people interviewed included Pastor Eric Parton of Shoreline Church; Kay Biggers of the Destin Fisherman’s Co-Op; Father Mike Hesse, former pastor of Immanuel Anglican; Dale Peterson, a former vacation rental and real estate business owner; and Steve and Wendy Wilson, former owners of the Buccaneer pirate ship and Southern Star dolphin cruise boat. 

Shane Moody, CEO and president of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, served as emcee for the Blessing of the Marketplace. He shared a bit about how God blessed the business community even during the 2020 pandemic.

“People were scared with the what ifs and there were a lot of what ifs going on,” Hesse said in the video concerning the oil spill.  

The group talked about how people were scared to come to the area because they thought oil and tar balls were on our beaches. 

Lisa Firth of the city of Destin and Jimmy Neilson of the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority were in attendance at Wednesday's Blessing of the Marketplace.

“We found out what Destin looked like when nobody is here,” Hesse said. “It was a ghost town for a while.” 

Peterson said they put “the coast is clear” on their marquee to help spread the word. 

More about town:Destin High Principal Christine Cruickshank ranks first year of new school a 9 out of 10

From 2021:Blessing of the Marketplace is back and in person, brings hope

The Wilsons talked about how they gathered to pray and God shifted the wind and turned the oil away from hitting the Emerald Coast. 

“It was a miracle,” Steve Wilson said. 

Caroline Hare and Father Mike Hesse praise and worship during the Blessing of the Marketplace song service.

Peterson said during those uncertain days in 2010 there was a sense of community and God proved himself. 

“You can be proud it has been proven over and over again, that we’re all blessed and together with God,” Peterson said of the Destin community. 

“Look what God can do … God is merciful and he saved this community,” Hesse said. 

People in the Life Center join in prayer during the Blessing of the Marketplace.

Steve Wilson talked about how God was willing to act on behalf of Destin and changed the direction of the wind 

“He changed the direction, nothing no man can do … it was everyone coming together saying we can’t do this alone; we need your help. He showed up and he showed off,” he said. 

More from 2021:Church of Destin looks to bring hope and unity through week of blessings

“It needs to be remembered,” Steve Wilson added. 

After the video, Community Pastor Matt Metcalf of Shoreline Church in Destin, who is this year’s president of the Church of Destin, talked about legacy. 

Chick-fil-A offered free box lunches to all in attendance at the Blessing of the Marketplace on Wednesday.

“Legacy was important to God,” Metcalf said, noting the different feast in the Bible and how they were celebrated. 

Legacy is about “reminding the next generation” about what you’ve been through and the blessings, Metcalf said. 

He said not all blessings look the same, but “we are blessed to grow,” he said. 

Mel Ponder, Okaloosa County Commissioner and one of the founders of the Week of Blessings for the Destin community, offered up a prayer during the event.

Before it was all said and done the local pastors from Baptist to Pentecostal prayed for the various types of businesses in the area, from the Sheriff’s Office to Realtors, from waitstaff to teachers and everything in between. There was even a prayer lifted up for the miscellaneous jobs, so everyone was covered. 

The Week of Blessing wrapped up with the annual Blessing of the Fleet, which had to be postponed one day, and was held Friday on the harbor front.