This week, we’re talking about the serious needs of workers who live their lives mainly on the seas. I’m asking: What values should govern our treatment of these people who live largely between countries?
The church is one group that often steps in to help those in need, and the migrant workers who toil on ships are often in need. One example is the Seamen’s Church Institute. Founded in 1834—a time when workers, especially seamen—had few rights and suffered willful exploitation.
The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Its services include social services, ministry, law and advocacy, and maritime education. The Institute offers free legal counseling, handles legal cases (such as unpaid wages or denial of shore leave), and advocates for seamen rights.
Last year alone, SCI’s Seafarers’ Center in Port Newark welcomed over 57,000 seafarers, port workers, and truckers, providing a safe place for relaxation, recreation, and spiritual refreshment.
Chaplains visit over 3,000 vessels each year, providing social and pastoral services at ports of New York and New Jersey.
Chaplains and staff minister to over 7,000 cruise ship workers in New York and New Jersey.
SCI serves Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to seamen in port, and gives gifts at Easter and Christmas.
SCI also provides mundane but essential services to seamen, including wire transfers of money, local ground transportation, phone cards, Internet access, and more.
This group is a blessing to seamen from around the world who serve on ships docking in the U.S. But its existence also highlights the pressing needs and continuous threat of exploitation of migrant workers.
What do you think of the Seamen’s Church Institute? And the
needs of workers at sea?
Please, Add a Comment. Where have you seen this kind of problem arising? What solutions have you found?