Liverpool Seafarers Centre
The Liverpool Seafarers Centre, is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers and reports rise in demand for ‘on-board’ church services ahead of Sea Sunday 8th July – an annual celebration held on the second Sunday in July - when Christian churches of all denominations remember and pray for seafarers, giving thanks for their lives and work.
During Sea Sunday, charities such as the national Apostleship of the Sea, The Mission to Seafarers and the Sailors' Society as well as non-denominational groups such as Sea Cadets carry out fundraisers, hold parades, and run awareness campaigns about life at sea.
LSC CEO John Wilson said Britain has a heavy dependency on the invisible army of brave seafarers with 95pc of everything we consume transported by sea. And with the cruise season well underway, Liverpool is also expected to welcome 58 ships each carrying between 120 and 1350 crew from now until September. However, many seafarers on board cruise vessels are only permitted up to two hours shore leave making it difficult to attend church services. Crew on merchant vessels too are precluded from attending church services, even when in port due to operations on board.
“We are one of the few port cities to have a seafarer welfare centre located in the actual cruise terminal,” said Mr Wilson. “So, we are able to interact directly with seafarers as soon as they leave the vessel. Merchant vessel crew have often been at sea for many days often weeks, working extended hours. Many of these crew are people of faith, often desperately in search of spiritual nourishment, and we are witnessing an increase in requests for church services to be delivered on board. This affords seafarers the opportunity to practice their faith in a way many of us take for granted.
“We welcome seafarers from all over the world including countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. We can provide them with spiritual support aligned to whichever Christian denomination they follow – Catholic, Protestant, Methodist. The important point is that we are here to support their spiritual and emotional needs in equal measure to their physical and more practical requirements.”
Liverpool Seafarers Centre’s roots date back to the 19th century and is funded by donations from parishes as well as general donations. It recently introduced a new port levy inviting shipping lines to contribute directly to service provision which is now extending across North West ports including Silloth, Workington, Barrow and Glasson.
The Right Reverend Paul Bayes, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, said: “As the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool I understand the importance of seafarers to the life of this city and nation. I warmly welcome the work of the Seafarers Mission and support their initiative in bringing faith and welcome to those whose work takes them far from home. Having a strong Christian presence reminding them of the bigger difference that having God in their lives brings is of tremendous importance. I encourage all in our diocese and across the Anglican communion to remember, pray for and support this vital ministry on Sea Sunday.”
Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, said: “Sea Sunday gives us the perfect opportunity to recognise and give thanks for the invaluable work of the Liverpool Seafarers Centre in providing spiritual, emotional and practical support to seafarers from across the world throughout the year. They provide for the needs of those who are far from home and loved ones for long periods of time and are often in port for only a few hours. The ability to respond to those needs immediately is vital and the work of the Centre merits both our prayerful and practical support.”