2010 International Year of the Seafarer

imo-logo-smallICMA is delighted that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has designated 2010 “International Year of the Seafarer”.

2101 is the International Year of the Seafarer
Year of the Seafarer

The Council of the IMO has also agreed that this will be the theme for next year’s World Maritime Day. In a press release, it was stated that the work of seafarers would be celebrated throughout the year. The theme has been chosen to give the IMO and the international maritime community the opportunity to pay tribute to seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they face in their working lives. Continue reading 2010 International Year of the Seafarer

Help us to develop “Successful Seafarers’ Centres”

A pool table is an essential symbol of terra firma. Photo Rolf Schulten
A pool table is an essential symbol of terra firma. Photo Rolf Schulten

ICMA General Secretary Rev Hennie La Grange calls on all staff of seafarers’ centres to participate in our project. Share your ideas and your resources. Help us to make more seafarers’ centres successful.

Do you have wonderful ideas that make your seafarers’ centre successful?  Then send them to us so that we can share with all members of ICMA on our website.

ICMA believes that setting up and running seafarers’ centres is one way to care for seafarers.  There are, of course, other ways to show our Christian hospitality and charity to seafarers.  But seafarers’ centres are the “parish churches” of port ministry. The faith-based ministries to seafarers are driven by Christian diakonia, our vocation to serve.

Continue reading Help us to develop “Successful Seafarers’ Centres”

The Mediterranean & Black Sea Football Cup 2010

The team from cruiseship Costa Magica
The team from cruiseship Costa Magica

Seafarers from cruise ships visiting ports in the Mediterranean and Black Sea area are invited to take part in this year’s Football Cup.

ICMA members in the ports of Barcelona, Malaga and Yalta are particularly active in organising this tournament. However, other ports in the region are welcome to participate.

Ricardo Rodríguez-Martos, ICMA Coordinator for the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Middle East Region, says

It demands some effort, but seafarers really enjoy playing football. Don’t worry if you only can organise one or two games. The important thing is to participate.

Ricardo has produced a flyer for distribution among crews of ships which will be visiting Mediterranean and Black Sea ports during the season, 10 March – 10 November. Click here to download the flyer. Continue reading The Mediterranean & Black Sea Football Cup 2010

Blessed celebrations of Jesus Christ’s resurrection

Reverend Miroslav Marinov
Reverend Miroslav Marinov
Zion Church's window "Resurrection".  Source Wikimedia Commons
Zion Church's window "Resurrection". Source Wikimedia Commons

Reverend Miroslav Marinov, the International Director of ICMA member LIFE International Seafarers Centers of Varna, Bulgaria, contributed this easter message to our website.

We at the Secretariat take this opportunity to wish all the members of ICMA and our partners and friends in the maritime welfare sector a blessed easter.  We pray that the resurrection and life of Jesus Christ will continue to inspire us all to live and to love unstoppably.

Easter – The stone is rolled back

“It was dark as they woke up that Sunday morning…

The two got up and put on their garments, grabbed their spices and headed out on the dirt road that leads out of the city. As they headed out on the road and as the sun began to rise, the path was lined with many dark shadows… but no shadow or darkness could compare with the darkness that hovered over their souls.

As they walked up the path towards the tomb…”

Continue reading Blessed celebrations of Jesus Christ’s resurrection

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

International Year of the Seafarer: can we help fishers?

In the first of a series of specially commissioned articles marking International Year of the Seafarer, Rev Chuang Yueh-Han shares his experience of caring for fishers.

Rev Chuang Yueh-Han visits fishers
Rev Chuang Yueh-Han visits fishers

In the International Year of the Seafarer, what can Taiwan’s Port Chaplain do for the people who crew ships and fishing boats?

Often when participating in meetings of international organizations concerned about seafarers, discussions are centered around seafarers’ concerns. International port chaplains are often concerned with seafarers with long term service on freighters or tankers, their work, their health, their nutrition, and related problems, including psychological and religious issues. A port chaplain in Taiwan encounters problems different from those in other locations because Taiwan is not only a country with major import and export shipping, but also is a major fishing nation. Therefore, we have an extremely significant task, which is concern for the crews of fishing vessels. Continue reading International Year of the Seafarer: can we help fishers?

SCI invites chaplains to help in its study of how piracy affects seafarers

The Manhattan offices of Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, New York, NY USA.
The Manhattan offices of Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey, New York, NY USA.
Douglas B. Stevenson at ILO
Douglas B. Stevenson at ILO

ICMA member, the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey (SCI) has commenced a study of the traumatic effects of piracy on seafarers.  A preliminary report has been published.  (To read the report, Post Piracy Trauma Assessment and Treatment, best practices for the maritime shipping industry, use the link at the bottom of this article.) The research is directed at health professionals and is intended to initiate new medical procedures in assessing seafarers after pirate attacks.

The work of the SCI follows ICMA’s resolution on piracy.  ICMA members are committed to support and initiate appropriate care for the survivors of maritime piracy.

SCI’s paper will inform discussion on piracy when the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organisation meets in May.  The IMO has published an advance paper quoting ICMA in paragraph 10.

Click here to read the IMO paper and more on the ICMA piracy webpage.

Douglas Stevenson, ICMA chairman and director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights which is linked to SCI, writes here asking ICMA members and chaplains for help to establish contact between seafarers and the researchers:

Dr Michael Stuart Garfinkle, a clinical psychologist, is beginning fieldwork in Port Newark, New Jersey where he will interview seafarers in order to better understand the “normal stress” of being a seafarer and the “added stress” of working in known zones of piracy. At the same time, interviews will be conducted with seafarers from around the world by Internet or telephone in order to maximize participation and the reach of this study. The aim of this study is to develop a program that is tailored to the specific needs of seafarers. Continue reading SCI invites chaplains to help in its study of how piracy affects seafarers

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