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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Bless this fish ... and those who caught it

Washington congregation pauses each year to Bless the Fleet

Next time you’re bowing your head to ask God’s blessing on that salmon you’re about to eat, remember, too, those who caught it.

But if you forget, know that Ballard First Lutheran Church, Seattle, has you covered. For 80 years the congregation has made sure fishing folks and vessels are blessed with its annual “Blessing of the Fleet” at the beginning of the fishing season.


More than 250 people in the Seattle
More than 250 people in the Seattle area gathered March 9 for the annual Blessing of the Fleet, including Malcolm Unseth (center), pastor emeritus of Ballard First Lutheran Church, which has for 80 years led the blessing. At right is Paul Mason, owner of the fishing boat Anita, which was this year blessed on behalf of the fleet.
And anyone who’s watched the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch knows the perils of the people at sea. In fact, “fishers and fishing workers” tops the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of dangerous jobs. Not a bad thing to remember this Labor Day when the work of our hands, hearts and minds is celebrated and perhaps given a rest.

In its early years, members of Ballard First were among those being blessed. They were the Norwegians, Swedes and Finns who worked the waters of the great Northwest, particularly Alaska. Even the church’s nave is literally, not just symbolically (in Latin navis means ship), shaped like a fishing vessel.


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