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ICMA at the ICSW AGM, Barcelona 2010

Hennie La Grange (centre) with Mr David Dearsley of ICSW and Mr Dani Appave of the ILO
Hennie La Grange (centre) with Mr David Dearsley of ICSW and Mr Dani Appave of the ILO

ICMA General Secretary Rev Hennie La Grange attended the ICSW AGM in Barcelona 23-26 March. The meeting was hosted by the Port Authority of Barcelona at their premises, La Casa del Mar. Rev La Grange took part in a panel discussion on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. He also gave a presentation on the subject of Successful Seafarers’ Centres, drawing on the manual recently published by ICMA and available for download here.

Rev La Grange enjoyed the hospitality of the Barcelona Stella Maris Centre, a very friendly well-appointed centre on the edge of the ferry port. The director of the centre is Deacon Ricardo Rodriguez-Martos, AOS chaplain to the port of Barcelona and ICMA regional co-ordinator for the Mediterranean and Black Sea region. As representative of a successful seafarers’ centre, Ricardo was present at the ICMA workshop in Hong Kong in November 2009 which led to the publication of our manual. His efforts as local co-ordinator of the ICSW meeting were very much appreciated.

Continue reading ICMA at the ICSW AGM, Barcelona 2010

ICMA 40th anniversary celebrations

In 2009, we celebrated 40 years of professional faith-based care to seafarers. ICMA would like to thank all of our members, friends, supporters and partners for their kind comments. We look forward to another 40 years of serving seafarers together.

On this page, we publish a selection of the comments and messages of support issued on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.


Reflections on 40 years of giving professional  faith-based care to seafarers

ICMA was born on 29 August 1969. The occasion was the International Consultation on Services to Seafarers held in Rotterdam. Over 100 delegates from 52 Christian voluntary organisations, representing 44 seafarers’ centres in 66 countries, attended together with representatives of secular agencies including the International Labour Organisation.

The opening ecumenical worship service was led by Rev Jan Willem Schokking, one of the port chaplains in Rotterdam. Quoting  1 Corinthians 13: 13, he set the tone for the encounter, reminding delegates that love is the greatest virtue.

The gathering was then addressed by Dr Emile Dieth of the International Council of Seamen’s Agencies (later North American Maritime Ministry Association) who had been one of the instigators of the event. He laid down the challenge to the delegates to study the needs of seafarers and then to form strategies for the most appropriate action to meet those needs. The two tasks should be seen in the light of God’s promises in Romans 8, 28-39.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (v38-9)

The consultation culminated in a statement of “Conclusions and Resolutions” which was passed unanimously. A Working Committee was chosen to implement the resolutions. One of these was the formation of an international association of Christian voluntary organisations which was to be both consultative and representative.

The working committee included representatives of the following organisations:

  • Apostleship of the Sea
  • British Sailors’ Society (later Sailors’ Society)
  • Dutch Seamen’s Mission
  • German Seamen’s Mission
  • International Council of Seamen’s Agencies ( later North American Maritime Ministry Association)
  • Mission to Seamen (later Mission to Seafarers)
  • Nordic Seamen’s Mission
  • World Council of Churches

The former ICMA logoOn 29 August 1969, the Working Committee choose the title “International Christian Maritime Association”. Thus was born one of the most successful organisations of the modern ecumenical movement and a significant voice in international seafarers’ welfare. The Working Committee then proceeded to organise the first ICMA conference, to be held in 1972, at which a draft constitution would be presented.

A fuller history of the beginnings of ICMA is contained in Roald Kverndal’s seminal text “The way of the sea, the changing shape of mission in the seafaring world”, California, William Carey Library, 2008


“Rejoice!”  This is how new ICMA chairman, Douglas Stevenson, opened his first address to the Consultative Forum.

Rejoice, he said, as ICMA celebrates its fortieth year of ecumenical working.  ICMA’s strength, he continued, lay in our shared commitment to serving seafarers.  This common commitment has enabled ICMA organisations to work together inter-denominationally.  Few Christian organisations have the same ecumenical diversity.  The diversity of ICMA is its greatest achievement.  We should never take this for granted.  Our diversity must be respected, and our relationships constantly nurtured.

Plenary meeting of the consultative forum, Helsinki
Plenary meeting of the consultative forum, Helsinki

Stevenson was speaking at the Consultative Forum and Annual General Meeting of ICMA held near Helsinki in Finland.  About forty people had gathered at the meeting.  Each of them represented a member of ICMA, a region of ICMA or an ICMA project. He listed the projects and developments within ICMA since the 2008-Consultative Forum. They illustrate the value of the Forum.

He specifically noted ICMA’s renewed commitment to regional conferences and the new paradigms for ministry being developed.  He referred to the industry-employed model of ministry developed by Stichting Pastoraat Werkers Overzee, the sailing chaplaincy of the Suomen Merimieskirkko, the research being done by professor Erol Kahveci at the Working Lives Institute at the London Metropolitan University and the work being done by Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey to address the effects of trauma caused by piracy. He reminded the meeting of ICMA’s commitment to the World Conference, planned for Hamburg in 2011.

The need for better ICMA branding had been addressed by the development of materials that ICMA members might use to inform their staff of ICMA, the redeveloped ICMA website and the new ICMA tie and scarf. A theological statement on ICMA and its ecumenical working will hopefully be developed.

ICMA concluded in Hong Kong that education and staff development enhance the professionalism of care. Nobody knows better than ICMA what chaplains need to be taught to minister effectively to merchant mariners.  We need to raise the professional standards of ICMA. He stated that ICMA was Christian to the core.  ICMA’s operations are faith-based.  While the value of ICMA is self-evident, we should not be complacent.  We need the vision to move forward, building upon our shared experience.  We will raise the stature of the maritime ministries to better serve seafarers.

Thank you for the work of the past forty years.  ICMA, the most successful example of interdenominational working, will continue to work for the improvement of seafarers’ lives.


Mr Tom Holmer of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust issued a warm appreciation of ICMA on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.

Mr Holmer said

I can formally congratulate ICMA on reaching this age, and having as much, if not more, relevance today as when it was first

Tom  Holmer of the ITF Seafarers Trust

started. It is a great institution, with a wonderful general secretary, and long may you continue. ICMA provides a very important link for the ITF with the maritime missions, allowing a degree of coordination of funding and of activities which would not be possible without it.

The ITF Seafarers’ Trust was established in 1981 by the Executive Board of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). It is a charitable trust organisation dedicated to the spiritual, moral and physical welfare of seafarers irrespective of nationality, race and creed.

ICMA acknowledges the huge support received from the Trust over many years and we thank Mr Holmer for his kind words.


Archbishop Veglio

On the occasion of the 4oth anniversary of the founding of the International Christian Maritime Association, we received a letter of congratulations from the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People at the Vatican.

ICMA founder member Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) has its international office at the offices of the Pontifical Council over which Archbishop Vegliò presides. We were delighted to receive such  a warm affirmation of support from the Archbishop. As we celebrate our 4oth anniversary, we thank AOS and all our member organisations for their magnificent contribution to seafarers’ welfare worldwide.

From Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò

From the Vatican,. 21st August, 2009

Prot. N. 4751/2009/AM

Dear and Reverend La Grange,

On the occasion of the 40th foundation anniversary I would like to congratulate the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) for the great service that has done to ecumenical cooperation and ministry.

Forty years ago, signs of ecumenism were difficult to find between our Church, other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. The founding of ICMA as a Christian association of charitable, non profit organizations was a small and humble beginning. All these organizations were related to Christian Communities recognized by the World Council of Churches or by the Vatican and engaged in promoting the well being of seafarers and their families, irrespective of creed, color, nationality or political opinion.

Today it can be safely claimed that there are few, if any, parallels to compare with the extent and range of the ecumenical co-operation in Christian ministry that ICMA offers to the people of the sea.

The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), as one of the founding members of ICMA, considers important the ecumenical cooperation in the seafaring ministry while respecting one another’s ecclesiastical discipline, theology and tradition. Today, more than ever, we are called to work together in the maritime industry to be prophetic and at the same time in cooperation with others maritime welfare agencies, to offer protection from injustices and exploitation of seafarers, fishers and their families.

Journeying together, in the past forty years, has sometimes not been easy but it has been an important witness to the words of Christ: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Assuring you of my support for the ecumenical work of ICMA and of my prayers, I wish that ICMA will continue for many more years to bring on board of vessels in any port of the world the Good News of Jesus Christ.


† Antonio Maria Vegliò


Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of
Migrants and Itinerant People

ICMA in Helsinki

The members of ICMA trekked to the wintry north.

On Wednesday 28th October ICMA gathered in Helsinki, Finland.  The annual Consultative Forum was part of the ongoing process which ensures that the voice of all members of ICMA is heard and the needs of all our members are met.  The consultative process acknowledges the role of port chaplains in practical ecumenical working by including in the Forum the elected representatives of ICMA’s nine regions.  It is also the occasion when ICMA’s project-heads get the opportunity to assess the feedback from chaplains and members on the efficiency of current projects and training events.  The consultation prompts adjustments to ICMA-endorsed programmes to better meet the needs of frontline carers.    Continue reading ICMA in Helsinki

Seafarers' Ministry Training 2009

Helene Perfors
Helene Perfors

ICMA’s  Seafarers’ Ministry Training will be held in October 2009 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The main goal of the course is train newly appointed chaplains for ministry to seafarers. Participants will share information and enhance the skills specific to this chaplaincy which is different to parish ministry.

The 2009 SMT team leaders are Rev Helene Perfors from Rotterdam, Rev Heike Spiegelberg from Hamburg Rev Sergi “Sven” Standhardt from Eemshaven.

For further information, contact Rev Perfors. Continue reading Seafarers' Ministry Training 2009

Add your voice in support of the victims of piracy

Douglas Stevenson
Douglas Stevenson

Piracy continues to threaten the lives of seafarers.

So much is being said about the threat that piracy poses to international security, trade and the global economy. Far too little is being done for the seafarers who are the immediate victims of piracy.

Douglas Stevenson from the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey writes:

“…piracy represents a crime against humanity. It is condemned by the international community of nations and any nation has jurisdiction to bring pirates to justice.”

What can you do in support of seafarers who have been traumatized by piracy?

In 2008, ICMA members were encouraged by the ICMA Annual General Meeting held in Hong Kong to voice our concern for the victims of piracy.  Be sure to look again at the resolution of the ICMA-AGM on this issue.

Now the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey have set up a petition online in support of ICMA’s resolution. To sign the petition electronically and voice your personal concern for seafarers threatened by piracy, click here.    Continue reading Add your voice in support of the victims of piracy

United Nations Organisation report cites ICMA's resolution on piracy

The United Nations flag. Source: Wikicommons

The Secretary General of the United Nations has cited ICMA’s resolution on piracy in a report to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation.

ICMA chairman, Douglas B. Stevenson, addressed the Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea last June at UN Headquarters in New York.  Douglas Stevenson called attention to the need to provide for seafarers who have been affected by piracy.  He highlighted the ICMA resolution in his speech, and provided copies to the delegates and the UN Secretariat.

Continue reading United Nations Organisation report cites ICMA's resolution on piracy

In search of excellence in seafarers' centres

The General Secretary of ICMA, Rev Hennie la Grange, invites the managers of seafarers’ centres to participate in a joint initiative with the ITF Seafarers’ Trust

Tuticorin, India
Tuticorin, India

For many years the seafarers’ welfare sector concentrated on providing facilities to meet the needs of seafarers. Seafarers’ centres were safe havens of hospitality, conveniently providing both services and care in one place. They were designed to be ‘homes from home’ for itinerant seafarers. The International Christian Maritime Association is proud to have been associated with this commitment to excellence in care-giving.

ICMA acknowledges that the seafarers’ welfare sector is an evolving environment.  One of the challenges to the sector is the growing reluctance of traditional funders to invest in new centres.  At the same time, it is increasingly difficult to maintain existing centres and sustain services. The bottom line is this: seafarers’ centres are expensive. Recently several centres have closed or are at risk.

Continue reading In search of excellence in seafarers' centres

What makes a seafarers’ centre successful?

Representatives from several of the world’s seafarers’ centres gathered in Hong Kong.

ICMA invited these centres to workshop the crucial factors and best practice that make seafarers’ centres successful.  It was hoped that the outcome of the workshop would be a toolkit for all seafarers’ centres.  A set of instruments, documents and a narrative report of the workshop will soon be published on the ICMA website.

Great people doing a marvellous job: delegates at the workshop for successful seafarers' centres
Great people doing a marvellous job: delegates at the workshop for successful seafarers' centres

The two seafarers’ centres in Hong Kong co-hosted the workshop.  Delegates were accommodated at the Mission to Seafarers’ Mariners Club in Hong Kong, and were treated to the hospitality of Reverends Martina Platte and Peter Ellis.

The ITF Seafarers’ Trust made the workshop possible with a generous grant, and assisted by allowing Roy Paul to co-present the event.

Continue reading What makes a seafarers’ centre successful?