Category Archives: Meetings

NSUK Nordiska Sjömans- och Utlandskyrkorådet – Council of Nordic Seamen’s Churches in Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden

Uppsala, Sweden 9–10 June 2017

written by rev Jaakko Laasio, FSM

The Nordic council gathers every second year. This year it was hosted by the Church of Sweden and its international department, the Swedish Church abroad. Present were delegates from Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden, in total 17 people.

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The two day seminar started with two presentations of Christian Calling and Interreligious Dialogue. Formal meeting and members’ reports filled the other day. Sweden and Uppsala was in full summer bloom and all delegates could enjoy the atmosphere of the old university town just north-west of the capital Stockholm.

The Christian Calling leads to a Social Responsibility, was one of the theses of the Very Rev Pernilla Parenmalm from Torshälla, Sweden. She has written a study around the theme for clerical meetings in Church of Sweden. Revd. Parenmalm took us to a personal journey on Christian calling and what it means for each and one of us.1

Professor Mikael Kurkiala from University in Uppsala, Sweden enlightened his subject with personal experiences from various periods lived in a native American reservation in South Dakota, USA. He studied the culture in an anthropologist’s perspective, but as a “natural culture” religion is constantly present. We discussed the importance of understanding different religious languages and even meanings on expressions in relations to different cultural backgrounds. Both themes are familiar to international seafarers’ missions.

Day 1 ended in a delicious meal in a top-floor restaurant with view over all Uppsala. After a peaceful night, it was time to meet again.

Members’ reports were given by the delegates.

Denmark was this time represented by the Danish seamen’s mission and church abroad (DSUK). They have activities around the world in 53 locations of which 22 are in Danish speaking areas in Northern Germany. DSUK has two main tasks: 1. to serve the Danish speaking minority south of the Danish-German border 2. to work elsewhere in the world (with Danish people and seafarers)

Faroe Islands has a seamen’s mission with 36 years of existence. Today it is a church with no priest and no church, but with an administration and active volunteers. They do fundraising by volunteers and are able to serve Faroe seafarers abroad in Iceland, London (UK) and Esbjerg (DK). A growing group of Faroese students living abroad is demanding more attendance.

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The Finnish Seamen’s Mission has worked with a renewed strategy now a year and a half. Service is given to seafarers and Finns abroad. The strategy includes also a plan for economic reform with a goal of no deficit by 2018. A deep cooperation with the Church of Finland continues especially on FSM stations abroad, but also with local parishes in Finland.

Earlier this year same sex marriage became legal in Finland, but not in the church of Finland. FSM reported that it made a bold statement to the church council urging it to change the church legislation. This statement raised positive reactions in the church and among Christian organizations working close to the church.

The Norwegian seamen’s church and church abroad, NSUK has recognised a new security situation in the world. It has connection with a new economic situation dictated especially of oil price, but also increased mobility of people. The organization is working for Norwegians abroad and seafarers. One of the challenges is to find right places to be. “Less cathedrals but more tents” is the line to follow now. With light constructions is easier to react on the movements of people. NSUK has worked with mobile chaplains for several years. They are totally 18 of which 10 serve on oil rigs at North sea, 5 for students around the world and 3 for Africa, Asia and South America.

Also NSUK launched a new strategy recently. It describes three signs of what it is to be NSUK: 1. close to life, 2. church searching for people and meeting them where they are, 3. caring for people

The Swedish Church abroad, SKUT is in the middle of a legal review of the whole organization. It has activities around the world and all stations are also local parishes connected to the diocese of Visby in Sweden. The structure is not compatible with local legislation in all countries and therefore a deep analysis is needed.

SKUT provided church and parish services for Swedes living abroad. The basics of the work are more or less the same than in other Nordic organizations.

Three other organizations belong to this group, but were not represented at the meeting: Indenlansk Sømandsmission (the Danish domestic seamen’s mission), the Seamen’s missions in Sweden and Finnish church abroad.

ICMA Annual General Meeting and Seminar, London, UK, Sept. 12-14, 2017

International Christian Maritime Association Active During London International Shipping Week

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 London, 13 September 2017

The International Christian Maritime Association, the worldwide association of faith-based seafarers’ welfare providers, held its annual meeting and seminar in London this past week, coinciding with London International Shipping Week. Founded in 1969, the Association counts among its members seafarers’ welfare providers operating in more than 450 ports worldwide. Association member Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest hosted the meeting, which included the Port Welfare Partnership Project launch and seminar at Trinity House on September 13 in collaboration with the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB). Seminar topics included best practice on the formation and function of port welfare committees per the MLC, 2006 and the use of new technology for the provision of seafarers’ welfare.

At the meeting ICMA recognized the statutory end of term for Fr. Bruno Ciceri of the Apostleship of the Sea as Chair of the Board. The incoming Chair is Rev. Heike Proske, General Secretary of the Deutsche Seemannsmission. Commenting on this change, Rev. Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers and incoming Vice Chair of ICMA, offered thanks on behalf of ICMA to Fr. Bruno for “being passionate about ICMA and so committed to ecumenical work.” Wright said also that Rev. Proske “is ideal for leadership of the board – she has a deep ecumenical commitment, uncompromisingly believes in the ICMA project, and has a long experience with the Association.”

ICMA also announced a collaboration with the North American Maritime Ministry Association to bring on Dr. Jason Zuidema, Executive Director of NAMMA, as the General Secretary of ICMA. The arrangement will see Zuidema continue his role with NAMMA at two-thirds time, working with ICMA in the remaining third. Commenting on this arrangement, incoming Chair Rev. Proskesaid “we are pleased that NAMMA can work with us on this collaboration. We look forward to the next year of projects with Dr. Zuidema, including a renewed focus on professional development and networking.”

Zuidema brings with him experience in port chaplaincy and higher education in his native Montreal, Quebec, before becoming Executive Director of NAMMA in 2013. He has served as Vice Chair of the ICMA board since 2014. Addressing the board, Zuidema noted how pleased he was to work with ICMA at this time: “It is a privilege to serve as General Secretary of ICMA to help connect and encourage seafarers’ welfare across the globe. I welcome and encourage feedback and ideas on how ICMA can continue and improve service to its members.”

About ICMA: ICMA was founded in 1969 to encourage ecumenical collaboration and mutual assistance among faith-based seafarers’ welfare organisations. Such collaboration works at local level, in port, and at national and international level. In a fragmented and divided society, it is the mission of ICMA to promote unity, peace and tolerance. It is the duty of every ICMA chaplain and welfare worker to serve seafarers, fishers and their dependants regardless of nationality, religion, culture, gender or ethnic origin. www.icma.as

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ICMA comes to LIFE

RumaniaAt the invitation of ICMA member LIFE International Ministries, the 2013 Annual General Meeting of the International Christian Maritime Association is, God willing, set to take place in Bucharest, Rumania.

At its meeting in London on Friday 17th May, the Executive Committee accepted the invitation of LIFE to gather in Bucharest.   The decision was taken in line with the policy to visit members of the Association.  Two members had offered to host the 2013 Annual General Meeting.  ICMA appreciates its members’ hospitality.

Our smaller members face unique challenges.  Our visit to LIFE shows the Association’s solidarity with its smaller members.

Director of LIFE, Florin Garbea, said:

“We are a small member, but would be honoured to host the ICMA family in Rumania.”

Members will be expected to arrive in Bucharest by the evening of September 30th, in time for the opening reception.

The members will meet on the 1st of October to discuss the results of the ICMA Strategic Review, and will participate in the planning for its implementation.  The Executive Committee will present a Strategic Plan for ICMA that reflects the outcomes of last year’s Members’ Consultation in Rome.  The Strategic Plan will be available by September 1st, 2013.

The Annual General Meeting will take place on the morning of October 2nd, 2013, followed by an ecumenical service of worship.

Members will depart from Bucharest after lunch on 2 October.

At its meeting earlier this year in Dublin, the Executive Committee urged members to participate in the discussions on the Strategic Plan.  To facilitate input from the whole Association, papers would be circulated well in advance. Comments and suggestions sent to the Secretariat by e-mail before the meeting, would be considered, even if the member cannot be present in Bucharest.  In London, the Executive Committee invited members to send delegations to Bucharest.  It was hoped that all members would be represented.

Information and registration forms will reach members shortly.   Guests are encouraged to book flights well in advance to ensure the best fares.  LIFE has secured excellent accommodation in Bucharest at a good price.

Delegates will pay all their own costs.  ICMA and LIFE will do our best to keep costs down.

Regional Conference commits to priorities for ministry

The final report from the ICMA Regional Conference held in Odessa concludes with a set of statements by the delegates that underline the region’s commitment to caring for the welfare of seafarers.

The outgoing Regional Coordinator, AOS Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez Martos from Barcelona, Spain, wrote that the region was committed to pursue the following goals and priorities in delivering care to seafarers and families in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region of the international Christian Maritime Association.

  1. Port Welfare Committees: PWC’s are very important for achieving more efficient assistance to seafarers. The region’s chaplains would promote such committees in each port.
  2. Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme: In cases of emergency or of piracy, port authorities, ship owners and the ship’s agents should be aware of the important role that port chaplains can play in welfare response and first emergency response.
  3. ICMA Code of Conduct: To enhance ecumenical working, chaplains, volunteers and welfare workers from ICMA’s members should follow the ICMA Code of Conduct.
  4. Networking:  Being connected to one another benefits seafarers and should be an ongoing goal of all ICMA members’ personnel and centres.
  5. Cruise ship ministry:  Given that access to cruise ships is not easily gained, a short and simple directory of ports and welfare providers in the region would be produced and distributed among crews and crew coordinators on these ships.
  6. MLC 2006: ICMA centres should promote the ratification of MLC 2006 in those countries where it is not yet incorporated in national legislation,  and are urged to  collaborate in its implementation in all ports of the region.
  7. Ship visiting: Given the fast turnaround and workload while in port, many seafarers have no time to go ashore. Therefore, ICMA personnel should prioritise ship visiting
  8. Onboard welfare:  Chaplains could facilitate groups on board that care for the welfare of fellow crew members.  These groups could form informal welfare committees or prayer groups.
  9. Seafarers Rights:  Chaplains are encouraged to engage advocacy for seafarers rights

This ICMA Regional Conference was made possible by a grant received from the ITF Seafarers Trust.  ICMA thanks the Trust for its generous support.

CLICK HERE for the full report from the Regional Conference

 

CODE OF CONDUCT
OF THE

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN MARITIME ASSOCIATION

 

 The Mission of ICMA

Membership of ICMA carries an obligation to abide by the Constitution of the Association and of this Code of Conduct.

The seafarers of the world remind us of the ultimate purpose of all God’s plans:” And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24,14 NIV). In a fragmented and divided society, it is ICMA ’s mission to promote unity, peace and tolerance. ICMA was founded for promoting and co-ordinating Christian ecumenical co-operation in maritime ministry.

Chaplains and staff of all ICMA Member Societies at local, national and international level are therefore to:

  1. Show an unconditional love to the seafarer as a human being, created in the image of God, and a sincere respect for her/his personal values and beliefs;
  2. Serve seafarers and their dependants of all nationalities, religions, cultures, language, sex or race;
  3. Fight prejudice, intolerance and injustice of any kind;
  4. Respect the diversity of ICMA Members and Churches and to develop that which unites them;
  5. Respect the loyalty of those engaged in maritime ministry to their particular ecclesiastical discipline and tradition and refrain from proselytising seafarers;
  6. Co-operate with persons, organisations and institutions, Christian or non-Christian, which work for the welfare of seafarers.

 

CLICK HERE for a printable version of the ICMA Code of Conduct

CLICK HERE for the French version of the ICMA Code of Conduct

 

A new team leads ICMA Region

Father Oleksandr Smerechynskyy, Apostleship of the Sea chaplain in Odessa, was elected as the new Regional Coordinator for the ICMA Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region. 

Father Oleksandr Smerechynskyy and Hennie la Grange

The Region met in Odessa, Ukraine.  Oleksandr is based in Odessa and operates from a small seafarers’ centre just outside the port gates.  He shares his centre and works as a close team with colleague Rostyslav Inzhestoykov of the Mission to Seafarers.  Together these two dedicated port chaplains did a magnificent job in staging a hugely successful regional conference.  The organisation was flawless and every request for assistance was met with a smile.  The outspoken aim was that everyone should have a relaxed conference, and that aim certainly achieved.  The accommodation was first class, the meals were scrumptious, especially the traditional Ukrainian cafe-style banquet and the closing gala buffet.  The conference highlighted the wonderful hospitality of the Ukrainian people.  The speakers were clearly specialists in their field, and the chaplains eagerly participated in discussions.  The organising team deserve our gratitude and congratulations on a job very well done.

What struck me was the committed dedication and unfailing enthusiasm of the region’s chaplains.  Almost all these chaplains face very difficult odds, yet their determination to succeed in their chosen ministries to seafarers was a credit to their faith.  They love passionately what they do, caring for both seafarers and the maritime families who live locally.  They are driven by faith that leads them to care unconditionally for all seafarers.

This regional conference was an inspiration.  I commend these men and women to seafarers.

With the election of  Father Oleksandr, Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos of Barcelona, a stalwart of the region’s ecumenical work, bows out as regional coordinator.  It is fair to say that Ricardo has set the bar high for all our regional coordinators.  Ricardo has done exceptional work for this Association. He has maintained close contact with all the chaplains in his region, and has come out in support of chaplaincy and ecumenical working as the core of ICMA’s existence.  His region’s contact details are up to date, and he kept every port chaplain abreast of ICMA’s communications, adding to the Secretariat’s letters to chaplains a regular regional bulletin.  The International Christian Maritime Association thanks Ricardo, one of the characters of this ministry, for his services to our Association.

In closing the conference, we prayed together for God’s blessing of the care to seafarers given by these men and women of the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region.  May these ICMA personnel be especially blessed, their vocational commitment strengthened and their relationships cemented in faith, that they may overcome the many obstacles that they face.

Tough times for centres

Seafarers’ centres represented at the ICMA Black Sea Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference report on how tough it has become to maintain facilities and staff.  

Reports received from the centres in the region reveal the challenges that beset ICMA members’ operations and service delivery to seafarers.

Some centres, like Yalta’s, have long and proud histories.  Others are fledgling operations, starting up to meet the needs of seafarers in the region.

The dedication of our chaplains to continue their work in the face of almost impossible odds, is all too apparent.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to afford centres or even centreless ministries.  Chaplains, ship visitors and centre staff  often volunteer their services. Good news is that the AoS report that it established a chaplain in Casablanca,  Morocco, in February 2013.  Father Arnaud de Boissieu, previously from Marseille, now visits crews onboard ships in Casablanca.

Port authorities in many cases have little understanding of chaplaincy, resulting in chaplains being denied access to ports and ships, and centres receiving little if any support from ports. Chaplains were urged to nurture relations with their ports.  ICMA should consider ways to assist and train chaplains to engage in fruitful discussions with port authorities on ISPS interpretation regarding access and understanding the Maritime Labour Convention.  Presently, in all of Ukraine, only Odessa’s port authority allows unfettered access for chaplains.

The Seafarers’ Centre in the Port of Yalta related just how difficult it is to maintain services. However, their survival as a centre is a story of marvelous resilience and innovation. They singled out Douglas Stevenson, and the Center for Seafarers Rights, for praise and gratitude for valued support over many years.

Twinning… or dating for seafarers’ centres!

The twinning of seafarers’s centres, a project currently run by the newly established ISWAN, was initially intended by ICSW to connect ex-Soviet Union centres with centres elsewhere in the world.  Set up to improve understanding of the the mindset of Slavonic seafarers, and to inspire hospitality to foreign seafarers in Eastern European ports, the Twinning programme has proven so successful, that it has been expanded to include the rest of the world.

Seafarers’ centre staff are supported to enable reciprocal visits.  Spending time at other centres that have similar needs and demographics, and that face challenges akin to those at home, allows for centres to learn from one another.    Centres are matched on various criteria.  The evaluation of the twinning scheme has been universally positive.  In some cases twinning of seafarers’ centres have gone way beyond the original aims of the programme, resulting in ongoing relations being established between the host ports and even the host cities.

Tatyana Tarasysk, manager of one of the two seafarers’ centres in Odessa, Ukraine, leads the project. Tatyana Tarasysk promoted the programme in a presentation at the ICMA Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference held in Odessa.  The aim of the programme, she said, was to improve seafarers’ welfare. “To feel encouraged when you see others struggling with the same problems.”

Tatyana related several stories and comments from centres that have participated. She urged ICMA centres to consider participating in the Twinning scheme.

Guidelines on who could participate and how to get involved are available on the website of ISWAN, the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network.

Nuture selfrespect to improve seafarers’ lives

“Seafarers are human.  They are not simply labourers nor expendable commodities.  Respect for seafarers, and seafarers’ respect for themselves, should be nurtured to enable seafarers to improve the quality of their lives.” 

Nataliya Yefrimenko, Odessa-based ITF Inspector, conveyed the warm regards of the ITF and its local affliliates to the ICMA Regional Conference.  Yefrimenko represented both the ITF and the ITF Seafarers Trust at ICMA’s Black Sea Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference in Odessa.  The ITF Seafarers Trust made the Regional Conference possible by awarding ICMA a generous grant .

Giving a short overview of the history of the ITF Seafarers Trust, its operations and current structure, and alluding to its strategic review, Ms Yefrimenko said:

The welfare of seafarers requires the partnership of all organisations with the wellbeing of seafarers at heart.

The ITF and its Trust is committed to assisting those who help seafarers. The Trust supports SeafarerHelp (the global 24-hour multi-lingual helpline for seafarers in distress), the MPHRP (the industry’s response to the humanitarian needs of piracy survivors), the HIV/AIDS Project (and other health and safety initiatives), mobility and communication initiatives (including mini-buses, shore leave issues, access to port welfare services and -facilities, Wifi and internet access, phone cards, etc.) and Seafarers’ Rights International, among others.

Quoting David Cockroft, she said: The ITF Seafarers Trust coordinates global work to meet the complex welfare needs of seafarers.  She added that Steve Cotton has said that the strategic review currently in process at the ITF Seafarers Trust, will be responsive to the welfare needs of seafarers as outlined by the MLC 2006.

Yefrimenko said that with 137 ITF inspectors worldwide and ICMA members’ coverage of more than 500 global ports, seafarers benefit from ITF and ICMA’s valued partnership. Our shared human approach to seafarers, settling disputes and solving problems and fulfilling needs improve the lives of seafarers.

She said: The future goal of the ITF Seafarers Trust is improved support for seafarers.  Not to leave seafarers in the victim-valley.  From our different perspectives we all help seafarers.  And, like ICMA chaplains, ITF Inspectors have a prescribed and limited role.

Yefrimenko urged ITF affiliates to  help improve chaplains’ access to seafarers.

Oleg Grigoryuk, First Vice Chair of the Marine Transport Workers Union of Ukraine also warmly welcomed ICMA to Odessa and the Ukraine.  Grigoryuk praised ICMA’s commitment to the wellbeing of Ukrainian seafarers in ports all over the world.

A lively discussion ensued after Yefrimenko’s presentation, demonstrating the dire need for more bilateral contact, discussion, debate and collaborative problem solving in the interest of  seafarers.  Chaplains were invited to refer suggestions for improved welfare provision to the ITF’s strategic review.

Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region Conference expresses concern for access to seafarers

The ICMA Regional Conference is taking place in Odessa, Ukraine.  Thirty chaplains from the region are gathered to network and to discuss experiences, challenges and achievements encountered in ministry to seafarers.

From the port reports it is immediately apparent that access to seafarers is a recurring problem.  Chaplains’ access to port facilities and ships is restricted and in some cases prohibited. To counter these restrictions in Ukraine, stakeholders in the port of Odessa have signed a memorandum of understanding that will hopefully lead to a Port Welfare Committee here.  PWC’s are expected to forge relationships, enhance understanding and enable collaboration.  Port Welfare Committees have been established elsewhere in the region, including Barcelona and Genoa, to positive effect.

Privatisation of Ukrainian port facilities poses both threats and opportunities to renegotiate permission to access. The ignorance of port authorities should be addressed:  chaplaincy is not generally understood.  Tatyana Tarasysk urged Ukrainian chaplains to consider Port Welfare Committees as an instrument to inform and to the attract support.

The ICMA Regional Conference in Odessa takes place with the generous support of the ITF Seafarers Trust.  The Regional Conference, originally planned for 2012, was postponed to 2013 due to the busy conference schedule among ICMA’s members, including the AoS World Congress of November 2012.