On September 6-7, ICMA members and partners gathered for a seminar exploring the future of maritime ministry partnerships in Malmö, Sweden. The event was hosted by the Seamen’s Church in Malmö and received sponsorship from the Swedish Church Abroad. More than 20 representatives of seafarers’ ministry societies from around the world were represented in the seminar.
On September 6, the seminar began with a presentation by Rev. Torkil Nilson on the work of the Sjömanskyrkan i Sverige (SiS), the Seamen’s Church in Sweden. Commenting on the future of the work in Sweden, Rev. Nilson stated, “As I see it, the connection and the support by the local parishes is absolutely essential for the future of our seamen’s churches in Sweden. We still have an important calling. It started out as missionary work and that is also what it should be in the future.”
The next presentation that afternoon was by Rev. Dr. Paul Mooney outlining a project to write a history of ICMA for its 50th anniversary in 2019. Dr. Mooney shared that ICMA’s place was unique in world mission, it showed an “unprecedented level of practical, ecumenical cooperation on a global scale.” Dr. Mooney encouraged any ICMA society with original documents relating to the history of ICMA to contact him.
Following further workshops on ICMA strategic vision, participants in the seminar were invited to visit the World Maritime University a short walk away. There they were met by Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU’s current president who was formerly the director of the section of the ILO that drafted the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. It was encouraging to learn from her deep experience in seafarers’ rights.
The second day of the seminar continued the conversations of the first day. We heard presentations from Mr. Andy Dakin, Executive Director of ICMA’s newest member, the Naval & Military Bible Society. NMBS history stretches back into the 18th century in the UK. Mr. Dakin shared ideas about new plans for specialized literature for seafarers that could be used by a wide variety of ICMA members.
Douglas Stevenson (Center for Seafarers Rights of SCI NY & NJ) and Ben Bailey (The Mission to Seafarers), chair of ICMA’s delegations to the ILO and IMO respectively, gave updates on the work of ICMA at these two important organisations. ICMA’s contributions in the discussions of these two organisations continues to be valued.
Finally, representatives of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan Seamen’s and Fishermen’s Service Centre presented on their important work in the Port of Kaohsiung. Elder Hsiu-Chin Shih Weng and Ms. Stacy Lai shared that they were looking forward to hosting the ICMA World Conference in October 2019 in Kaohsiung.
During the seminar, Rev. Heike Proske, the outgoing chair of ICMA, shared her vision for the future of maritime ministry: “When we look forward in maritime ministry, from the Christian point of view I see 1 Corinthians 13 – there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. Working together is one of the most important inputs for our vision – when we see what we are doing together, then there is no better motto than ‘We are stronger when we work together.’”
Bio: Jason Zuidema (Ph.D., McGill) is General Secretary of ICMA and Executive Director of NAMMA.