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Viewpoint - The Seafarers Mission

Ben Bailey
Seafarers Mission Press


In towns and cities around the world men and women are saying goodbye to their families as they PETER AND THE SEAFARERSembark on year-long contracts at sea. In ports around the world stevedores conduct the daily rhythm of loading containers bound for far-off lands. In churches around the world people are gathering for Sea Sunday to thank God for the important work that seafarer’s do in order for us to live our every day lives.
We rely on seafarers for our food, our clothes, our petrol and our cars. In fact, in the United Kingdom, seafarers are responsible for bringing us over 90 per cent of our daily needs. Yet, because they are often in a port miles from the nearest town, it’s easy to push them to the backs of our minds. That is why the work of The Mission to Seafarers can make all the difference to their lives.
As an international mission agency of the Anglican Church, The Mission to Seafarers reaches out with a message of love and hope in a harsh and often inhospitable environment.
In over 230 ports worldwide, Mission chaplains visit seafarers on their ships extending the hand of friendship and help in times of crisis. It does this by operating seafarers’ centres. Here, crewmembers make the most of their limited time ashore by celebrating Communion in its chapels or use the centre’s telephones and computers to keep in touch with their loved ones. In every one of the Mission’s port presences, chaplains and volunteers hand out Bibles and literature in different languages.
In Great Yarmouth, the Mission’CNV00015s chaplain is the Revd Peter Paine who regularly carries out ship visiting and deals with seafarers’ requests, such as taking them to local internet cafes so that they can make contact with home. Peter is also on hand to deal with any problems or emergency situations. Last year, Peter was instrumental in securing emergency accommodation and fresh clothing for the crew of the MSV Jork who were plucked to safety after their ship collided with an unmanned gas platform.
A seafarer’s place of work is also his home. And whilst most shipowners treat their staff well, some put profits before crews’ welfare. Crews have found themselves stranded on vessels with no idea how and when thuntitledey will get home. Some go for months with no pay and not enough food. In these situations, local Mission representatives work to bring resolution and comfort.
So as people gather in churches this Wednesday (July 16) to remember seafarers, please remember the work of The Mission to Seafarers as it endeavours to meet the needs of seafarers in ports around the world.
A service of celebration will be held in St. Nicholas church at 7.30 on Wednesday 16th to which all are invited.