A place of prayer, teddies, bibles in every language, hats and scarfs kitted across the diocese, toiletries, phone cards, clocks with international time zones, Chaplains and supporters. The Seafarers Centre, the base for the Chaplains at Portbury and Avonmouth Ports at Royal Portbury Docks is a great place to be…
The Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley visited on Sunday 17th June. With Fr Jeremy Hellier, the Mission to Seafarers Chaplain she met seafarers, visited ships and toured the port.
Bishop Ruth says, “It was fascinating to visit Portbury and Avonmouth docks! Went aboard a ship transporting six and a half thousand vehicles to Europe; saw first hand some of the conditions of sailors at sea; and I was hugely impressed by the work of those who offer practical help, spiritual care and a warm welcome through the chaplaincy work of which Jerry is a part.”
The Chaplains aim to visit every ship that comes into port, and through listening carefully to the port radio channels, they are often the first to welcome a ship. They go on board with SIM cards for phones (crucial for sailors to contact home) hand knitted woolly hats, bibles in a wide range of languages, and with time to listen and care.
Sometimes there are concerns, a crew who hasn’t been paid in six weeks, or who haven’t received proper training, or even the tragedy of modern slavery. Advocacy, fighting for Christian justice, is really important and a significant part of Mission to Seafarers work and a chaplain will raise concerns and support the powerless.
Sometimes the Chaplains will meet a crew on a one-off visit. Often relationships and friendships are formed that last and spread right across the world. Everyone knows and trusts the flying angel logo of the Mission to Seafarers and the Chaplains are always welcomed.