Looking Back on 2013

Dec 30, 2013

by Susannah Skiver Barton, Foundations & Social Media Manager

As the year draws to a close, thoughts inevitably turn to reflection on the affairs of the past 12 months. Here at the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), 2013 proved to be a year of exciting events with steady service to the world’s mariners. Click through the stories below to read more about SCI’s service to the world’s maritime workforce in 2013, or take a look at a selection of photos from across the Institute’s mission that reflect, without words, the diverse activities of SCI staff and supporters throughout the year.

Top Stories of 2013 | The Year in Pictures

The Institute’s core ministry to mariners traversing oceans and the nation’s inland waterways provided essential pastoral care on days both ordinary and extraordinary. As an overview of chaplaincy, Ministry on the Rivers and Gulf Chaplain Kempton Baldridge shared with us the unique facets of his work in this article, while SCI-TV captured more detailed, individual stories of men and women our chaplains met over the course of the year. One extraordinary story played out this past November in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Read the story of how SCI chaplains in Port Newark, NJ and the Bay Area ports of California helped Filipino seafarers struggling to contact their loved ones in the wake of this devastating storm here.

SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights (CSR) found numerous ways to advocate for mariners across the globe. Expanding an existing program to help foreign seafarers understand their rights and responsibilities regarding US environmental law, CSR launched a webapp in multiple languages designed for access from any computer or mobile device. CSR Director Douglas B. Stevenson trained port welfare workers on the specifics of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), which came into force in August and has already been instrumental in securing fair treatment of seafarers.

The Center for Maritime Education (CME) in Houston expanded its education toolbox, debuting a new Transas simulator designed for one-on-one training and assessment. The facility also hosted a maritime forum with leaders from across the private and public sectors guiding discussion on key industry issues. In June, the Navigation Safety Advisory Council (NAVSAC) appointed the Director of CME–Paducah, Capt. Greg Menke, to its maritime safety advisory board.

In September, SCI premiered an exciting new fundraising event, the SCI Mountain Challenge. Inviting teams of three to test their physical endurance and face uncertain conditions—just as mariners do every day—the Institute hosted more than 120 participants for a long weekend in Western Maine. Teams raised more than $375,000 to support SCI’s programs for mariners and had a great time in the process.

Celebrating its 115th year, Christmas at Sea, SCI’s volunteer knitting program, held a design competition for knitters in the spring. The goal: to adopt a new hat pattern for mariners featuring earflaps. Dubbed the 1898 Hat, the new design made its debut among mariners at the start of the 2013 gift-giving season.

This year, Christmas at Sea asked knitters to make use of their yarn leftovers and create mini mariners’ watchcaps for an awareness campaign called #WATCHthisCAP. The little caps, created by knitters and hidden in plain sight in communities across the country, inform folks who find them about mariners’ contributions to our daily lives. You can see some of the hats’ journeys online here.

With 12 months of success behind us and further opportunities to serve in the coming year, SCI thanks its supporters—from donors to knitters to countless volunteers—for your ongoing partnership in our ministry. We wish you all the best for a blessed and joyful 2014.