Fishermen and their families were the focus of the Nikiski Church of the Nazarene’s Fisherman’s Blessing service Sunday, as church and community members gathered to support each other.
Jason Evoy, lead pastor of the church, said that the special service is geared toward the many in the congregation with ties to the fishing industry.
“It would be difficult to count the number of fishermen within our church. I honestly can’t think of anyone who isn’t strongly connected to fishing in sort of capacity… for sport, for commercial for personal use or subsistence,” he said.
Evoy explained the purpose of service was the desire to create an opportunity where fishermen may come together and celebrate their similarities while seeking God’s safety and blessings on the families and community.
“Our communities are greatly defined by our God-given, natural resource of salmon, especially during the summer months. The culture, economy and lifestyle of our community is significantly influenced by fishing,” he said.
Evoy said the service is not a new concept, but has made a difference to the fishermen and their families.
“We pray over the fishermen in our church every year the first Sunday in July,” he said. “No one really remembers the first time this happened, but this is the first ‘official’ Fisherman’s Blessing where we have invited the greater community. “In years past, this has been an opportunity for God’s blessing, provision, and safety for those connected to the fishing industry within our congregation.”
The morning began with a breakfast and fellowship, then the group gathered for song and praise. Near the end of the service, fishermen and their families were invited to the front of the room to receive blessings. While many knelt, others stood with bowed heads.
Evoy said the church had received several comments about the significance of praying over fishermen and families.
“After last summer, both sport fishermen and commercial fishermen alike spent the winter anxious about this next fishing season,” he said. “Thus we decided to open the invitation to the community at large to joining us in praying for all those involved in the fishing industry.. whether a set net fisherman, personal use, subsistence, processor or bed and breakfast owner.”
Vern Kornstad, a second-generation fisherman with 41 years experience, said the July Fisherman’s Blessing is an important service for his family.
“I think it is just a time to reflect,” he said. “You get so busy with all of the preparations, all of the little details, every rope and buoy and nets.”
“To come together and ask for God’s blessing reminds us that He really is in control and it isn’t totally about how well I prepare. I do the best I can with our fish site and for our people to be ready. But in the end, how many fish swim by, when we can fish, that is all out of my control.”
Kornstad works as a teacher at Nikiski Middle High during the winter months and fishes in the summer at mile 19.5. Fishing is a subject that Kornstad says is talked about all winter.
For Kornstad, Sunday brought two important parts of his life together in one service.
“This is a great perspective check before the season to remember that it isn’t about catching a certain number of fish, or poundage, it is that we have to do the best we can and for us, for our family to be together, it is such a blessing to be able to work together and contribute to providing salmon for our country.”
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org