Maritime charity, the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), has spoken out on the way seafarers and fishermen are treated when they run into problems with their UK visas. These seafarers are never without the support of ICMA member, AoS Great Britain.
Recently four foreign fishermen, two Filipino and two Indonesian, were stranded in Newcastle, UK , when the fishing boat they were working on hit financial difficulties. The ‘Starward’ was impounded due to the owner’s financial troubles.
The crew had not been paid salaries since March. This meant that they were not able to send money back home to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines, with one crew member relating how his children were going hungry. As the crew were only contracted to work on this particular vessel they were not able to transfer to another. Also, as they were working on transit visas, the UK Border Agency had them arrested in mid-June and they were taken to a detention centre. They were subsequently transferred to a Heathrow detention centre where some of them remain.
Throughout this ordeal the crew have been helped and supported by the Apostleship of the Sea’s Tyne port chaplain, Paul Atkinson. Paul has provided practical and emotional support, working with the AoS national office to try to alleviate the men’s stress and ensure they are fairly treated.
Apostleship of the Sea National Director Martin Foley said,
‘The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances. It is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded in the UK through no fault of their own are treated like criminals and subjected to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them.”
Pastor Dirk Demaeght, who works with fishers in Belgium, alerts us of the plight of fisher families in these times of economic downturn.
We must realize that, today, from a pastoral point of view, our fishery is bleeding! There are 7 vessels on the side because of financial difficulties. In some families the mountain of unpaid invoices is impossible to meet. The fuel prices continue to rise and fish prices fall because of a slowdown in the European fish market. In addition, the measures that the European Union has taken on discards make life even more difficult.
Fishers are stressed and discouraged.
Many young fishermen are leaving the industry. At the age of 35-40 years they wrestle with the question whether they still have a future to build in the fishing industry. To remain in fisheries, increases the possibility that they, at some point, will no longer be able to cope physically with the hard work. But on the other hand it is difficult for them to change careers knowing that they do not have skills valuable to the labour market.
We must pray that they continue to believe in their future as fishermen.
The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society, ICMA’s newest member, has offered its correspondence Bible studies to other members of the Association.
Martin Otto, author and port chaplain in the Port of Hamburg, Germany, wrote:
As new members of ICMA, we would like to find a way of making a positive contribution to our fellow members, over and above our cooperation at local level. [The] Bible correspondence courses [were] written by ourselves but we would be happy to make them available for other ICMA members to use free of charge and without the need for any copyright payments. These courses are not necessarily suitable for all seafarers, but they have been written in simple language with seafarers in mind. One attraction of these courses is that the seafarer is able to read them in the privacy of his own cabin without any pressure or undue influence from anyone else. We find that seafarers of many nationalities welcome the opportunity to investigate the Christian faith in this way and thousands of seafarers have completed this course in recent years.
“The Bridge” contains a basic outline of the Christian gospel. The student is provided with an answer sheet that can be sent to the distributing chaplain for marking. Some ICMA members might like to mark the answer sheets themselves – but SCFS is more than happy to see to this on their behalf if preferred. The Bridge is available in 24 languages. SCFS is able to supply ICMA members with a CD containing all these languages so that the courses may be printed off locally, as and when they are required for distribution.
Grace for the Weak
Grace for the Weak, another of the correspondence courses that SCFS are willing to share with ICMA members, is very useful for ship-based study in groups or in ship-based churches.
If any ICMA member would like to discuss the use of these courses they are welcome to contact Volker Lamaack in Hamburg, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Affiliates to ICMA’s founding member, the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA), are urged to register for the upcoming NAMMA Conference. The NAMMA Conference commences on August 5, 2013 and concludes on August 8.
“It is shaping up to be a great time of sharing and learning,” said Loring Carpenter, the NAMMA Executive Director and soon to be General Secretary of ICMA.
The quality of speakers, the content and relevance of the presentations, and the chance to share mutual issues as we serve seafarers make this an invaluable few days. In addition, you’ll have fun in the sun! We will have a chance to meet the new General Secretary of Mission to Seafarers, and hear from him on the life of Fishers (he was most recently the leader of a mission to Fishers). Our keynote speaker will be Keynote Speaker: Rev. John W. Crossin, OSFS, Executive Director, Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from the Bishops Council and a dynamic advocate of mariners. And we will have opportunity to learn more about Critical Incident Stress Management from one of the internationally known trainers.
The caretaker-regional coordinator for the Northern Europe Region of International Christian Maritime Association, the Reverend Jaakko Laasio, has invited chaplains and other ICMA personnel from the region to register for its regional conference in September. The Suomen Merimieskirkko (Finnish Seamen’s Mission) are our hosts.
The conference starts on 17th September 2013 in the Conference Centre Sofia, Helsinki Finland and end on the 20th. And of course, this being Finland, there will be saunas! (Pictured here.)
Highlights of the Programme will include:
Day 1: 17th September, Arrival and opening ceremonies
Day 2: 18th September, Understanding our work
Day 3: 19th September, Excursion to Tallinn, MLC2006
Day 4: 20th September, Networking
Persons working for ICMA members within the Northern Europe Region are invited to attend the conference. If you qualify, please register immediately. Please contact Jaakko at Jaakko.Laasio@merimieskirkko.fi
Jaakko Laasio wrote:
ICMA has received a generous grant from the ITF Seafarers Trust for this conference. With help of this grant we can offer the conference in a reasonable price. We thank ITF ST for generosity.
The Rev. Hendrik F. la Grange has resigned as General Secretary of the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), to pursue other interests. The effective date of his resignation is July 31, 2013. ICMA is very grateful for Hennie’s contributions and will honor him at an ecumenical worship service and reception at 11:00 a.m. on July 16, 2013 at St Michael Paternoster Royal, College Hill, London EC4R 2RL, England.
Please join us in thanking and honoring Hennie for his many contributions to ICMA on July 16. I would appreciate your informing us that you will attend the service and reception by emailing the Rev. Canon Ken Peters at: KenPeters@missiontoseafarers.org
The Rev. Loring Carpenter will relieve Hennie as interim General Secretary on July 15 as ICMA continues its strategic study.
I am very grateful for the skills and friendship that Hennie brought to ICMA as General Secretary. Hennie has made an indelible impression on me and all who have worked with him in ICMA. I wish him the very best in his future pursuits and know that we will keep in touch.
With all best wishes,
Douglas B. Stevenson
Chairman, International Christian Maritime Association
Tributes to seafarers are being received from shipping companies, unions, international fora like the IMO and ILO, in fact from almost all who understand the invaluable role of seafarers in all our lives.
The 28 members of the International Christian Maritime Association, our seafarers’ centres and chaplains, committees, volunteers and staff and the faith communities whom we represent, all of us applaud seafarers on this day.
We pray that you are safe.
We pray that your family life is happy.
We pray for your company, that your job is secure.
We pray that you will enjoy the fellowship of your faith family in every port.
We pray that you will experience fulfilment.
May you experience how close God is to you.
The members of ICMA are dedicated to your wellbeing. Call on us if you need support or assistance. We are there, in most ports of the world, to help you, or simply to be your friend.
The Liverpool seafarers’ Centre has sent us their contribution of seafarers’ faces in celebration of The Day of the Seafarer. Faces of the Sea 2013 Liverpool
The General Secretary of the International Christian Maritime Association has come to the end of his term in the role. Reverend Hennie la Grange will leave ICMA at the end of July 2013 after being in post since July 1st 2007. He will leave the office on July 15th. Hennie wrote:
The Strategic Review is moving ICMA forward in leaps and bounds. The Association has now arrived on the eve of a new era that promises to strengthen ICMA by transforming the secretariat and promoting the work of its members. These challenges call for new skills and fresh commitment. The last decade’s implementation of the GRUBB Report, ICMA’s previous review, and the ever changing environment of our ministries have led ICMA to branch out and break new ground.
I am gratified by the time I spent with ICMA. Moving across continents to take up this role has been worth every sacrifice.
I have been blessed with a world of new friends and family in faith. I have met remarkable people. I have discovered treasures in Christ’s church that I had never imagined. I have seen growing unity. Together we have celebrated difference. We have shared moments of great achievement while battling the complexities of life and work. We have seen excellence and failure, and together we have overcome. We have experienced firsthand the love of Our Father at work in this unique ecumenical community. Of course ecumenical communities need nurturing, and tolerance remains key. God’s Spirit, I pray, will help you to guard over this precious chunk of his kingdom.
I have the utmost respect for port chaplains who serve God and care passionately for his people of the sea. I thank God for you. Your labours, performed against impossible odds, are an inspiration. May God bless you with fulfilment, as that is the reward, I know, you desire most.
I hope that I have been able to contribute, just a little, to Christian unity, to the dignity of port chaplains and to the wellbeing of seafarers, fishers and their families.
I hope that I may have instilled in the industry and among our partners in the welfare sector, a sense of faith’s value in inspiring selfless commitment to care.
I hope that ICMA, its members and its chaplains, are a little more valued as a resource that can be relied upon even to swim that extra mile, when walking on the water is not an option.
Thank you all for having me! Thank you for your friendship and hospitality. I have not always been able to deliver what was expected or required, but you loved me all the same, as Christians do.
Seafarers in Port Manatee on the Gulf of Mexico can be assured of finding a friend in Anchor House.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary of fellowship to seafarers at Port Manatee, USA, Anchor House is an integral part of the independent ecumenical Christian ministry to seafarers, affiliated to ICMA’s member in North America, NAMMA.
The Bradenton Herald reported that Chaplain and Director Tim Huppert and Chaplain and Manager Trish Alligood board ships with an outstretched hand even when they can’t speak the language of the crews to offer support, reading materials, worship and a listening ear to whoever’s on board.
More than 5,000 international seafarers visit the port annually. Those seafarers able to come ashore, come to the small building that houses the mission for free computer use, telephone access and other kinds of communication, as well as food and other personal necessities.
Port workers and various volunteers stop by Anchor House to help out or participate in programs or Bible study. Anchor House has Bibles in 30 different languages to offer seafarers.
A local port worker who regularly eats his lunch there, said it’s the environment the chaplains create that takes him back there again and again.
“You walk in here and its spiritual. These two touch us. They give everything, their whole heart and all, for everybody. It’s good to be here,” Stanfield said.