Brazilian Conference Reveals Unity in Ministry

Mar 8, 2010

by Douglas B. Stevenson, Director, Center for Seafarers' Rights

Recently, I attended a meeting of the Brazilian Maritime Ministry Committee (BMMC) held in Paranaguá, Brazil. The Brazilian Committee demonstrates an impressive example of inter-denominational collaboration in maritime ministry. Port chaplains, representing Brazilian Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Baptists, have developed their own cooperative organization to share their experience with each other and to enhance maritime ministry services in Brazil. 

The meeting also gave me the opportunity to spend some time with two graduates of the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) chaplaincy training programs, Pastor Luis Lucas and Pastor Rivelino dos Santos. Luis and Riva serve at the Paranaguá Seafarers’ Assistance Center in Paranaguá, founded by SCI, Parana Baptist Convention, and Espirito Santos Baptist Convention. 
 
The BMMC assessed two important matters at this meeting. Firstly, the gathering requested that the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), a group of Christian seafarer welfare organizations of which SCI is a member, designate Brazil as a distinct Region. Secondly, they adopted a resolution urging the Brazilian government to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), a labor standard that provides comprehensive rights and protection for the world’s seafarers. 
 
After the Committee meetings, I met with Brazilian Labor Inspectors, Mrs. Vera Albequerque and Mr. Rinaldo Almeida, in Rio de Janeiro and delivered the BMMC’s resolution to them. I have known Vera for ten years from working together at the International Labour Organization (ILO)—most notably, in developing the MLC, 2006. Vera is taking on new responsibilities in Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and is relinquishing her Labor Inspector National Coordinator duties to Rinaldo.
 
ICMA’s members helped develop the MLC, 2006, and the organization strongly supports its ratification by all maritime nations. The convention holds the potential for greatly improving seafarers’ working and living conditions worldwide. We hope that it will come into force in 2011.