“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” ~Psalm 133:1~
The above Bible verse is one chosen by this year’s Blessing of the Inlet committee to symbolize the meaning of this popular annual event. Sidney Williams, one of a team of volunteers with Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet, spent a few minutes chatting with Sasee about this year’s iconic festival.
“This year’s focus is on the blessing. The blessing service will be held at 11:30am in front of the cross that sits on the inlet.” Sidney went on to say there will be crafters and children’s events, including a petting zoo – and food! “The entertainment this year will be The Harbor, our praise band that plays at our modern contemporary service and our sanctuary choir – the music will be performed on the church steps and grounds.”
The money raised on May 2nd is donated to local charities – even the food vendors donate a portion of their proceeds. “The fish fry proceeds go to St. James High School band and the restaurants choose their own charity for donation.”
Senior Pastor, Reverend Will Malambri, will preside over his very first blessing this year. “I moved here from Florence last June, and in May it became known that my family and I were moving to Murrells Inlet so I could become one of the pastors at Belin Memorial. The day after the  Blessing of the Inlet several of the members of the church where I was serving came up to me, very excitedly, and said, ‘Do you know how to bless an inlet? You’re going to have to next year.’ They had seen coverage on the news and were very interested.”
Rev. Malambri went on to say that Reverend Walter Cantwell, Belin Memorial’s Associate Pastor, would guide him on the procedures this year and talked a bit about the changes, including putting the focus of the service at the seawall cross. “This will bring us to the edge of the inlet and give everyone there the beautiful backdrop of what God has given us in that unique and special body of water. As I think about our blessing it, I think of this being a time to give thanks for the beauty of the water and the joy and nourishment it provides. I think of us asking for guidance as we try to be the best stewards we can be of the beautiful creation in which we live. I think of praying for safety for those who enter the inlet, or use it to enter the ocean and protection from the storms that can come through it. Ultimately, what we’re doing is thanking God for the inlet and asking God’s ongoing blessing on it.”
This eloquent pastor also stressed that the literal inlet also represents the heart of the Murrells Inlet community. “Whether they are taking in the Marsh Walk, enjoying the fresh seafood, part of one of the many festivals, or joining us for worship, we want their experience blessed by the scenery, setting, and people they encounter. Murrells Inlet is such a uniquely beautiful place that, as God said to Abraham in Genesis, I want us to recognize that we are blessed to be a blessing. I hope the Blessing of the Inlet helps us recognize our blessings, give thanks for them, and be careful stewards of them.”
Rev. Cantwell is also excited for the 2020 blessing. “What makes the Blessing of the Inlet special is the reason behind the event. To facilitate a day of faith, food, and Christian fellowship, Belin Memorial welcomes all of its neighbors to join them on the first Saturday of May.”
“The Blessing of the Inlet provides our community with a moment to gather as one before the tourists arrive a few days later for Bike Week and before the constant stream of vacationers make their way to the Grand Strand,” Rev. Cantwell continued. “One of my favorite experiences from last year occurred during lunch. As I made my way to sit down under the tent with my delicious seafood plate in hand, the wonderful sound of laughter greeted me. Neighbors were enjoying each other’s company. For that moment in time, we were all united in our shared appreciation of God’s beautiful creation.”
“The Blessing ceremony itself is always quite special,” Rev. Cantwell said as we ended our chat. “In that moment you feel the warmth of God’s love being poured out on our community. It truly is a blessing to be present.”
Join this year’s Masters of Ceremonies Ed Piotrowski, Chief Meteorologist, with WPDE15, and Nicole Boone, News Anchor at WBTW, at the Blessing of the Inlet onSaturday, May 2nd, from 9am-3pm.
For more information,visit www.blessingoftheinlet.com.