Sea Sunday: We shall say ‘thank you’ to seafarers at the 9.30am service 8th July
Seafarers transport more than 90% of the food and goods we use every day, and yet these 1.2 million hardworking men and women are often forgotten.
On Sea Sunday, the Church comes together to remember seafarers and to pray for them, their families and the ministry of The Mission to Seafarers to crews around the world. As well as raising money to help those who work at sea, the day is sometimes celebrated with services, parades and ship blessings.
As a welfare agency with more than 150 years’ experience of caring for seafarers, the Mission is there to support mariners in need in 254 ports around the world. Away from family and friends for many months at a time, in multinational crews with others who may not speak the same language, seafaring can be a tough, lonely and hazardous career. A life at sea involves working long hours and navigating some of the world’s most dangerous waters. Many risk shipwreck, storms, injury, and pirate attack without a single friend on board with whom they can share their fears.
BBC Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes, who comes from a family of sailors, is supporting this year’s campaign. She recalls a prayer she heard as a child which describes the isolation and vulnerability of the seafarer as something we can all relate to:
“My favourite prayer is a very small one which seems to sum up so much – not just for seafarers, but for anyone who feels at sea in their own lives. It is this: ‘O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.’
“I first heard this prayer when I was at school, and as I come from a naval family which travelled from one port to another, this prayer said in assembly had a very special meaning for all of us. To think that those we loved were out on the huge ocean in relatively tiny vessels was a frightening thought – unless you believed that God was with them, protecting and guiding, wherever they were. “
Today, Mission to Seafarers’ chaplains provide a global network of Christian welcome and support so that seafarers can unload their heavy cargo of worries. Our seafarers’ centres offer a ‘home away from home’, enabling mariners to contact their loved ones through telephone and email, seek counselling, spiritual support or a welcome break from the routine of life on board. For those who are unable to come ashore due to port duties or short turnaround times, our ship visitors bring low cost phonecards and internet-linked laptops on board so that crews are not completely cut off.
The Mission is a friend in a foreign port to hundreds of thousands of seafarers every year, and in an emergency, we are often the only help on offer. No matter what problem a seafarer is facing, be it piracy, shipwreck, injury, non-payment of wages or abandonment in a foreign port, they know they can turn to the local Mission to Seafarers for help. Our chaplains and volunteers offer practical and financial support, advocacy services, and access to legal advice, family liaison or simply a space to talk.
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