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International Year of the Seafarer 2010

imo-logo-smallHalfway through the year, we reflect on achievements and challenges

Today we publish the fourth and fifth in our series of specially commissioned articles for the International Year of the Seafarer 2010.  As we reach the halfway point of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on what it means to ICMA and our members.

In a recent speech at the IMO Headquarters in London, IMO Secretary-General Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos called the Year of the Seafarer

“an excellent opportunity to convey to the 1.5 million seafarers of the world the message that the entire shipping community appreciates them and the indispensable services they render to civil society; is aware of the conditions under which they operate; shows compassion for the sacrifices they make; and really does care for them”.

The ICMA website abounds in stories of chaplains and ship visitors, port welfare workers and the staff of seafarers’ centres who embody that appreciation, awareness, compassion and care. The article by Rev Johan Smith, ‘A Port Chaplain’s Perspective‘ is one example of many. Continue reading International Year of the Seafarer 2010

A Chaplain’s Perspective …

Rev Johan Smith
Rev Johan Smith

Continuing our series of articles celebrating International Year of the Seafarer, 2010, Rev Johan Smith gives us a very personal reflection on his relationship with seafarers.

It was Leonardo da Vinci that said that all our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions. Perceptions are the way we see the world and are constituted in our being and doing. That said, often our knowledge is based on misperceptions or perceived ideas about how we think things are.

It was my first day as a Chaplain in the Cape Town harbour. I was excited and a bit stressed. In my mind I had a lot of perceptions about how the people of the sea were going to be. I admit this to my own shame, but my perceptions were worlds apart from reality. Continue reading A Chaplain’s Perspective …

A disgrace

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright

Chaplain Andrew Wright recently visited the Falkland Islands where he witnessed the contrast in conditions for fishers. While some are able to work in safety and dignity, others are less fortunate. This article is part of our series commissioned for 2010, International Year of the Seafarer.

In the Falkland Islands, it is the start of the squid season. The big Spanish trawlers are allowing their mainly Peruvian and Chilean crews to have a “run ashore”. Stores are taken onboard and health inspections are done by local vets. Such inspections are vital for selling the catch into the EU market. Conditions for the crew seem good and patterns of working civilised. Crews are alternated in the runs to and from Spain, giving decent time out to all. Continue reading A disgrace

ICSW announces International Seafarers Welfare Awards

icsw-awards-logoThe ICSW will shortly be launching the International Seafarers Welfare Awards as part of the IMO’s International Year of the Seafarer.   The awards are designed to recognise excellence in seafarers’ welfare.

There will be four categories:

  • seafarer centre of the year,
  • shipping company of the year,
  • port of the year, and
  • welfare personality of the year.

The first three categories will be nominated by seafarers. The fourth category, welfare personality of the year, will be awarded to a person nominated by welfare providers like ICMA or any of ICMA’s members.  Criteria for nominating such an individual will be published on an ICSW website dedicated to the awards.    The website is being setup to receive nominations and applications.

The winners will receive their awards from the IMO Secretary General at a prestigious event in London in late November/early December 2010.
Full details will be in the next issue of the ICSW’s monthly update.  The ICSW invites ICMA’s members to email to request  leaflets and posters promoting the awards.

ICMA supports the awards along with the IMO, ILO, ISF and the ITF.

ICMA’s Nordic members meet in Denmark

The ICMA-members of the Nordic Council, Copenhagen 2010
The ICMA-members of the Nordic Council, Copenhagen 2010

Nyhavn, Copenhagen as seen from the Bethel Hotel, local seafarers' residence
Nyhavn, Copenhagen as seen from the Bethel Hotel, local seafarers' residence

The Nordic members of ICMA met in Copenhagen.

The Nordic Council meets every second year, besides regular meetings of the Secretaries General of the various societies.

Reverend Margith Pedersen was formally confirmed as the representative of the Nordic Societies on the Executive Committee of ICMA.  She has been on the ICMA Executive Committee since 2009.

The meetings of the Nordic Council focus on cultural matters in managing ministry to migrating and itinerant Nordic nationals.  This includes Nordic seafarers.  However, while Nordic seafarers are the primary focus of most of these societies, their chaplains also minister to every other nationality encountered onboard.

ICMA’s General Secretary, Hennie la Grange, was invited to address the meeting on the challenges that seafarers’ ministry poses to port chaplains. In his address he remarked on the need to connect with seafarers by entering their world.  Chaplains are gifted by the Holy Spirit to do just that, he said.

The meeting was hosted by the  Danske Sømands- og Udlandskirker.

The delegates stayed at the Hotel Bethel, the centrally located accommodation for seafarers and tourists run by the church.  The Bethel was voted one of the 25 best hotels in Europe for 2010 due to its value for money accommodation and excellent location. Visit the website at

At Pentecost…

From the Antonius of Padua Churchkerk, Aerdenhout.  Source: Wikimedia Commons
From the Anthony of Padua Church, Aerdenhout. Source: Wikimedia Commons

At Pentecost we celebrate that the Holy Spirit came to live in us.

What has often disturbed me about that is that we continue to fail dismally at living right.  Surely the Spirit should equip us to know better than to sin and to be better at living?

But then, we should not divorce the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ.  Doing so will always lead to misunderstanding of God, and to a misrepresentation of ourselves.

Remembering that God’s greatest saving act was to raise Christ from death, changes how we see our broken lives.  The Spirit’s coming results in our own resurrected lives.   Life in the Spirit means not so much that we have succeeded to put an end to our sinning.  It does mean that having sinned, we are not doomed to be stuck in the mess. And while perhaps we are still not as good at life as we should be, the Spirit ensures that we never give up trying. Because living again is possible.

Having faith in Christ is to believe that we too are resurrected, to know that there is a way to go on after failing horribly at life.  Without the Holy Spirit we would have had none of that.

So?  Never give up:  start over and come alive.   That’s the miracle we need.  That’s the difference the Holy Spirit makes.  It’s in giving up that we die.  Don’t.  Have yourself a life! That’s what the Holy Spirit is all about.

The International Christian Maritime Association prays for God’s blessing upon all its members at this time of Pentecost.

Reverend Hennie la Grange
ICMA General Secretary

The welfare of seafarers is top priority

Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust
Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust

Roy Paul of the ITF Seafarers Trust delivered this opening address at the 5th Regional Welfare Committee Meeting of the South East Asia regional programme on behalf of the International Transport Workers Federation and the ITF Seafarares Trust. We publish the text here with Roy’s permission as part of our series of articles on the “Year of the Seafarer“.

We meet in the home country of the largest single supplier of our world’s seafarers.  Approximately 330,000 seafarers come from the Philippines and this is around a quarter of the seafaring population.

Importantly we meet at a time when we have so many opportunities to unite together to serve not only these Filipino but also the Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese and all seafarers of the world.

The International Maritime Organisation has decided that this year be observed as “2010: Year of the Seafarer”.   The aim is to “pay tribute to the world’s seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they shoulder in the execution of their duties in an often hostile environment”. Continue reading The welfare of seafarers is top priority

A new member for ICMA

kimmAnother organisation dedicated to seafarers ministry has joined ICMA. Our latest member is the Korea International Maritime Mission (KIMM). The president of KIMM is Rev Dr Jonah Choi who is based in the port of Pusan, South Korea. Assisting Rev Choi in English language communications is international director Rev Byeong Eun Lee who lives and works in Philadelphia, USA.

KIMM recently celebrated a Sea Sunday Festival in Yeo Su, Korea. Following the festival, there was a two-day seminar at Che Ju Island for chaplaincy training.

KIMM is the 28th member organisation of ICMA. We are delighted to welcome them onboard and look forward to working together in the future.

The meaning of ministry

Bernard Vincent  is a ship visitor and seafarers’ centre volunteer in the French port of Marseille-Port de Bouc-Fos. He is especially well qualified for this role as he explains in this reflection on the meaning of his ministry to seafarers.

1apostelship-of-the-sea1“I am a retired seafarer and have been a deacon with the Apostleship of the Sea for more than 45 years. I have been retired for ten years and am now based in the port of Marseille-Port de Bouc-Fos in France. I was ordained as a deacon for one purpose: to be there for the poorest and most isolated seafarers.

Originally, I was a mechanic. I spent 38 years sailing with the poorest and most isolated seafarers, always under foreign flags and flags of convenience, with companies that might be German, Greek, American, Arabic…I have been shipwrecked twice, on a dredger and on a cruise ship, and on two other occasions I have had a brush with death, at sea and close to the coast. I have experienced hunger and thirst, sometimes on a salary of less than $250. Continue reading The meaning of ministry

Training portfolio updated

Rev Martina Platte
Rev Martina Platte

smt-logoThe ICMA education and training brochure has recently been updated.

The brochure is now available to download from the ‘ICMA education and training’ page on this website. Follow the link to the left of the page.

Click here for more information about the forthcoming Seafarers Ministry Training, Cape Town, Oct-Nov 2010

Reverend Martina Platte, chair of ICMA’s Standing Committee for Education and Training may also be contacted for further information.