NEWPORT — A crowd of people gathered at the Port of Newport International Terminal at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 7, where prayers were offered for local commercial fishermen who are headed this week to Alaska’s Bering Sea.
South Beach Church Pastor Luke Frechette called everyone in. “Closer,” he said, as dozens of people — fishermen, their families and their friends — formed a circle. The large fishing vessels, geared up, lined the dock behind them.
Frechette told the fisherman of the respect he has for them. “You’re made for this. You’re called for this,” he said.
“If you’re going on a boat, today, going to Alaska, raise up your hand,” Frechette said. “If you’re standing by somebody with their hand up, would you just put your hand on their shoulder, OK, while I pray,” Frechette said to those gathered on this windy day. “We’re going to pray for the captains, that they have wisdom, for the deckhands, for the boats…” People moved to put their hands on a fisherman, bowed their heads and prayed.
“The Bible says in the book of Philippians to not be anxious of things,” said Frechette, though the wind blowing was just a precursor to the storm that is expected. “Help us to get ahead of the weather,” he prayed. “We know the risks we take,” Frechette acknowledged.
“Give the captains … discretion. Help them to make good decisions. May they know when to take risks and when not to,” prayed Frechette.
“I trust my husband, and I trust his judgment,” said Megan Johnson, wife of Captain Justin Johnson of the F/V Pegasus. “I’d say with the storm coming, it’s a little bit more nerve-wracking,” she acknowledged before adding, “He’s always done this, so I’m used to it.”
“The bottom line is, what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to catch fish,” said Frechette. “Help us to do that this season. Let it be a prosperous season,” he prayed.
Frechette noted that the blessing, originally scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9, at 9 a.m., had been moved up due to the weather. But he said he would also be there Thursday morning, even in the rain. “We’re gonna pray, again, for you guys, right there on that day,” he told the fishermen.
The boats generally travel as a group up to Alaska’s Dutch Harbor. In the Bering Sea, they will be fishing for cod and pollack, a fishery that generally lasts for several months.