Christmas boxes, long-distance phone cards and ship christenings – all have been part of the ministry of the Mission to Seafarers in the past year, according to a report presented to the fall meeting of Canadian Anglican bishops by Archbishop Terence Finlay of the diocese of Toronto, liaison bishop for the Mission in Canada.
Archbishop Finlay said four of the 11 missions in Canada were able to send reports in time for his presentation: St. John’s, Nfld.; Halifax; Sarnia, Ont. and Hamilton, Ont. Canada’s missions are part of the London-based Mission to Seafarers serving 108 ports worldwide, an Anglican ministry that was founded in 1857.
In St. John’s, Rev. Christopher Snow reported that Christmas boxes were distributed to crews spending the holiday season in the port and ships were visited on a regular basis. However, a plan to visit ports on the east coast of Newfoundland has not worked out and Mr. Snow said he intends to concentrate on the shore base in St. John’s.
In Halifax, Rev. Brian Evans reported that the mission hosted about 25,000 visitors in the past year. The mission’s income is up due to the wholesale marketing of long-distance phone cards to shipping agents. Only one agent in Halifax does not get its cards from the mission, Mr. Evans reported. The mission is also exploring establishing a satellite office at the north end of the port, he said.
In Sarnia, Ont., a port on Lake Huron, Archdeacon Gordon Simmons, noting that the mission works with a Roman Catholic team, said the integrated group was busy christening three ships last spring. Volunteers have been taking crews to church services and have supplied them with Bibles, clothing, books and videos. Due to the mission’s ecumenical nature, it is thinking of changing the name to Mission to Seafarers St. Clair Region – Flying Angel, Stella Maris, said Archdeacon Simmons.
In Hamilton, Ont., a port on Lake Ontario, Rev. Robert Hudson said the mission will move to a more spacious location this winter, as a result of negotiations with the Port Authority. They will have three computers for crews to use for e-mail and there will be a larger games room and a new television satellite dish. Mr. Hudson said 120 international ships have called at the port in the past year and more than half stay for less than 24 hours, making an early visit to a ship crucial for contact with the crew.