Rectors Reflections

Beside the Seaside

I wonder if you have any summer holidays planned for this year? If so, I wonder whether you will be spending time at the seaside? Or perhaps even spending some time at sea?

The Second Sunday in July is traditionally designated Sea Sunday, a day to celebrate the role that seafarers play in our daily lives. Over 90 per cent of world trade is carried by sea, and there are some 1.5 million seafarers around the world. Sometimes, life can be very hard for seafarers, and they can suffer from poor working conditions.

There has been a long tradition of Christian ministry to seafarers. One of the major charities working in this area is The Mission to Seafarers. Do have a look at their website: missiontoseafarers.org. This charity was founded back in the 19th century, and it currently provides welfare services in 200 ports around the world. They provide support to seafarers “regardless of rank, nationality, gender or religion”.

I had the joy of experiencing their ministry at first hand when I worked for a while as part of their chaplaincy team in the New York area. On one occasion I remember welcoming a crew from mainland China, who had come to the chaplaincy centre for some rest and recreation.  Communication was challenging, as the crew spoke only Chinese! But this didn’t matter, as the crew knew that they would be welcomed and cared for at the chaplaincy centre. We helped crew members make money transfers to their families back home, and together we sat down and watched an adventure film on the TV. The crew was only with us for a few hours, but it was a joy to be able to share hospitality with them even for such a brief period. Our visitors knew that the Mission to Seafarers could be trusted to put their interests first. The Mission would not discriminate against them on the basis of their nationality or language. Furthermore, the Mission would not seek to exploit them, financially or in any other way.

Seafarers often have a hard life. Yet we depend upon them for much of the food we eat and the products we consume. I wonder how we might help to make their lives a little easier?

 

Father Jason