by the Rev. David M. Rider, Executive Director
On October 3-4, I had the pleasure of engaging clergy and parishioners at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, on the Seamen's Church Institute's (SCI) international, port, and river ministries.
We began our time on Saturday with more than 40 parishioners and clergy joining me on a river cruise upon the riverboat Mark Twain. We spent two hours plying the Ohio River. A highlight included our (safe) encounter with a 15-barge tow moving up-river. We discussed the mechanics of a tow, the deckhands, pilots, and other crew, and the typical daily rhythm of life aboard a river vessel. We discussed SCI's maritime education programs, which include simulator education of veteran pilots and captains, along with our Ministry on the River chaplains who visit vessel crews on good and painful days.
I believe that parishioners came away with a deeper sense about how the Church cooperates with the river transportation industry, not to mention ways in which Christ Church Cathedral-a few blocks from the river-can minister to mariners throughout the year. For many years, the Cathedral has been a major packing center for our Christmas on the River outreach program, preparing special boxes filled with knitted scarves, caps, and letters from Church School children for distribution throughout the upper Ohio River. As our river trip ended and the temperatures dropped, we began to appreciate the value of warm scarves for mariners on the cold winter waters of the Ohio River.
On Sunday morning, I was honored to preach at both worship services (8:00 and 10:00 am), seeking to reflect theologically on ways that parishioners might view their beloved river as a context for ministry. Between services, two Forum Presentations addressed SCI's historic and current mission. The first focused on the menace of piracy off the coasts of Somalia and Nigeria, along with SCI's initiative to create mental health support for crews and their families during and after release from captivity. The second forum surveyed the river transportation industry-including cameo comments from Craig E. Philip (President & Chief Executive Officer of Ingram Barge Company) and Mark K. Knoy (President of AEP River Operations) who, with their wives, joined worshipers for the morning. Both Craig and Mark serve as SCI Trustees.
I came away invigorated by SCI's close growing relationships with churches along the inland river system. Special thanks go to Christ Church Cathedral's Dean, the Very Reverend James Diamond; the Rev. Canon Joanna Leiserson, Canon for Christian Formation; and volunteer packing coordinator Priscilla Dunn for a successful weekend of ministry and fellowship together.