[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican mission agency Mission to Seafarers (MtS) is linking up with its German counterparts in a ground-breaking initiative to provide support for the maritime community in the British ports on the River Tees. The Deutsche Seemannsmission (DSM) – or German Seamen’s Mission, part of the Evangelical Church in Germany – has had chaplains in the Tees and Middlesbrough ports for some time. Now, the two DSM chaplains in the area will oversee the MtS mission centres on both sides of the River Tees.
The 12-month pilot scheme will “build on the strong commitment to professional partnership which both maritime welfare organisations are keen to develop,” a spokesperson for Mission to Seafarers said.
The DSM’s chaplaincy team cover both sides of the River Tees; and the MtS has two Seafarers’ Centres, supported by strong teams of staff and volunteers, including Honorary Chaplains.
“Until recently, the Mission to Seafarers funded chaplaincy posts in Teesport,” the spokesperson said. “For the next 12 months on an experimental basis, DSM chaplains Irma and Uli Schulte will also represent The Mission to Seafarers.
“The Mission will make a contribution towards the costs. It is hoped that this will be an arrangement which can be taken forward into the future and is a sign of their commitment to work together wherever possible.”
The Roman Catholic seafarers mission, the Apostleship of the Sea, also operates in the area. MtS and DSM say that they “value greatly the significant chaplaincy work carried out locally” by the Apostleship. The three organisations will continue to work closely together to provide “very significant welfare support to seafarers visiting both Teesport itself and the wider area.”
The general secretary of the DSM, Heike Proske, said: “This project, which has been planned for a year, is intended to show how maritime missionary work in the world of seafarers can continue to be well established, even though all Christian maritime missions have to make significant savings.
“As seafarers are globally working, the Seafarers’ Missions too are coming closer together to support seafarers everywhere in the world, regardless of their nationality, religion and culture.”
The general secretary of the MtS, the Revd Canon Andrew Wright, said that he was “absolutely delighted by this development in Tees,” adding that “partnership working is good for seafarers and ensures the best use of resources. We look forward to working closely with the Deutsche Seemannsmission.”