Kagawong hosts annual Blessing of the Boats Marine Service

Rev. George Gaiser leads the Blessing of Boats on the Kagawong docks at Sunday’s Marine Service at St. John the Evangelist in Kagawong. photo by Robin Burridge

KAGAWONG—The pews were full for the annual Blessing of the Boats Marine Service at St. John the Evangelist in Kagawong this past Sunday.

The service started with the Blessing of the Boats on the Kagawong docks by officiate Rev. George Gaiser, followed by the singing of ‘He’s Got the Whole World’ led by Doug Alkenbrack on guitar.

Back inside the church, Dianne Fraser introduced guest speaker Seija Deschenes of Manitoulin Streams who discussed an improvement project commencing on the Kagawong River.

“The Kagawong River is a very unique and important habitat for fish and wildlife,” said Ms. Deschenes. “This summer Manitoulin Streams is working with Kagawong to complete an enhancement strategy on the river. We have identified 22 sites along the river that require work. This summer we will be working on the lower sites.”

Ms. Deschenes explained the work being done will include bioengineering to improve bank erosion and bring back stream depth, creating channel constrictors using boulders and rocks and adding root wads to reduce the impact to corner bends of the banks and create a natural habitat for all species of the river and planting trees of various species along the river trail to off set the possible threat of the emerald ash borer.

The project will also partner with 4elements Living Arts for a River School Project, educating youth about streams and the importance of river systems and artist Michael Belmore, who will be carving art into boulders to be incorporated into the Kagawong River trail system.

Following Ms. Deschenes’ presentation, the congregation sang ‘Will Your Anchor Hold.’

Rev. Gaiser began his homily with a quote from Kenneth Grahame’s ‘Wind in the Willows.’

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” quoted Rev. Gaiser. “What does it mean to bless boats? I have been in some holy boats, but holy as in h-o-l-e-y. We bless our food numerous times a day, but does that mean we end up with holey food? Holy in this case means the Eucharist. We bless the food for our use so we might be blessed for God. We are blessing vessels so that we may bless others.”

Mary Buie led the congregation in the prayers of the people, which was followed by the prayer for Manitoulin and the singing of the hymn ‘I Feel the Winds of God Today.’

Dianne Fraser read a poem by former St. John the Evangelist Reverend Beth Topps.

Ms. Fraser also read the names of those who have died in the waters around Mudge Bay while Billings Mayor Austin Hunt tolled the bell.

The closing hymn was ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save.’