SCI Welcomes New Ministry on the River Chaplains

SCI Chaplains Nancy Simpson (left) and Geoffrey Davis (right) meeting with the Captain of the MV Patrick J. Studdert.

The Seamen’s Church Institute welcomed two new chaplains to our Ministry on the River. Central to our mission, SCI Chaplains are deeply involved in engaging with mariners, extending hospitality, offering support, and intervening in crises. Frequently serving as frontline advocates, MOR Chaplains assist mariners in pivotal locations like Houston, New Orleans, and Paducah, while Chaplain Associates extend their support along the inland river system and Gulf Coast. These devoted professionals are steadfast in addressing the varied needs of mariners, prioritizing their welfare.

The Rev. Nancy Simpson

Ministry on the River — Houston Ship Channel & Gulf Coast Region

The Rev. Nancy Simpson, an ELCA Lutheran pastor, joined SCI on April 8 as our Chaplain for the Houston & Gulf Coast Region. Based at SCI–Houston, she is a native Texan, born and raised in San Antonio. She is no stranger to careers incorporating service on both land and sea, as her father served in the U.S. Navy and then as a career police officer, and various other relatives have worked in the U.S. Navy in other capacities.

Nancy has served for many years as a full-time ordained pastor in the ELCA and as an ordained Crisis Chaplain volunteering with law enforcement. She had previous contact with the maritime community as a participant in the Christmas at Sea program and bringing gifts aboard vessels. That evolved into visits aboard international ships to carry out pastoral care with other chaplains.

Another SCI Chaplain introduced Nancy to SCI’s training facility and staff in the Houston area. This led her to become a Chaplain Associate with SCI, visiting maritime crews aboard vessels and christening tugs. Now, moving into full-time chaplaincy with SCI, Nancy looks forward to being present aboard vessels and shoreside, providing pastoral and crisis care in the Houston/Gulf Coast waterways. “I am honored to serve the maritime industry, which provides a vital service to our nation and is a blessing from God,” she says.

The Rev. Geoffrey Davis

Ministry on the River — Lower Mississippi River & Gulf Coast Region

The Rev. Geoffrey Davis joined SCI as a full-time Chaplain at the start of April 2024. “My life has always been connected to the maritime industry,” he told us. Growing up, his father was a tugboat captain, and Geoff knew early in life that he wanted to work on the water. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Texas A&M Maritime Academy, where he began his maritime career. Over the last eighteen years, he has worked on numerous vessels as a licensed bridge officer, as well as in various shoreside management roles. Most recently, Geoff has been working as a freelance maritime consultant with a focus on safety and navigation and as an Adjunct Maritime Instructor for Delgado Community College in New Orleans, LA.

During his career, Geoff began growing in faith, which became a central part of his maritime journey. He connected with SCI Chaplains and always appreciated the support they provided him while away from home.

During this period, Geoff followed his calling into pastoral ministry. Geoff has also worked in the maritime industry as a bi-vocational pastor of two local churches and as a volunteer chaplain associate with SCI. Geoff said, “I am thankful for this new opportunity as a full-time chaplain with SCI. I have a passion for making connections with and serving mariners and their families. Everything, every experience, has led me to this point.”