Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey
The Seamen's Church Institute (SCI) of New York & New Jersey, founded in 1834 by Charles Sherman Haight Sr. and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, serves mariners through education, pastoral care, and legal advocacy. With a budget of over $6 million, SCI is the largest, most comprehensive mariners’ agency in North America. Headquartered in New York City, the Institute operates seafarers’ centers in Port Newark and the Port of Oakland and maritime education facilities in Paducah, KY and Houston, TX.
SCI provides free legal advice for merchant mariners worldwide and advocates for their rights to the United States Government, including the United States Congress, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labour Organization and maritime trade associations.
Historical Highlights of SCI (1834-2011)
1834: SCI is founded at a meeting of the Young Men’s Auxiliary Education and Missionary Society
1844: SCI builds the Floating Church of Our Savior to provide a place of worship where seafarers could feel comfortable and welcome
1868: SCI builds its first mission house at 34 Pike Street in the bustling New York Harbor
1898: The Christmas at Sea program begins
1899: The beginnings of Maritime Education at SCI
1908: Franklin D. Roosevelt joins SCI ’s Board, on which he remained until his death in 1945
1913: SCI opens the doors of its 13-story building at 25 South Street in downtown Manhattan
1917: The Institute begins training merchant marines for World War I
1920: Janet Lord Roper begins running the Missing Seamen’s Bureau
1924: SCI opens an emergency homeless shelter for seafarers affected by the shipping industry’s economic downturn
1961: SCI dedicates its International Seafarers’ Center in Port Newark, NJ
1982: The Center for Seafarers’ Rights is established
1991: SCI moves to new headquarters at 241 Water Street in New York City
1997: The Institute opens CME–Paducah in Kentucky, the first training facility of its kind for America’s inland river mariners
1998: Ministry on the River begins, the only full-time pastoral care service available to mariners working on America’s inland river systems
2001: SCI dedicates CME–Houston, a facility for maritime training in the Port of Houston
2009: SCI assumes management of the International Maritime Center in the San Francisco Bay Area
2009: SCI launches groundbreaking study on the psychological effects of piracy
2011: SCI changes Ministry on the River to Ministry on the Rivers+Gulf to reflect the expanding scope of this ministry
Pastoral care and services
In the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Port of Oakland, SCI chaplains visit thousands of vessels entering annually, providing needed services to crews and offering hospitality and pastoral care. Seafarers visiting SCI hospitality centers can access the Internet, phone their families at home, and enjoy a range of other amenities free of charge.
SCI's Ministry on the Rivers and Gulf (MOR+G) program reaches out to mariners and maritime workers on the inland waterways and in the Gulf of Mexico. Three full-time chaplains board towboats and offshore vessels to offer pastoral care and hospitality.
Maritime education and training
SCI instructors provide professional development and educational programs for inland, coastal, and deep-sea mariners using simulator training at facilities in Paducah, Kentucky and Houston, Texas.
Policy, advocacy and law
SCI's Center for Seafarer Rights (CSR) is the world's only free legal-aid program for merchant mariners. Available for consultation at any time, CSR mediates between parties to reach a resolution acceptable to everyone, often referring individual mariners to pro-bono law firms for assistance. Working with human rights and government groups from around the world, CSR has been instrumental in improving safety and security for mariners, as well as implementing new standards relating to stowaways, piracy, repatriation, medical care and shore leave.
Taking on a new dimension to advocacy, CSR has retained the services of psychologist Michael Garfinkle, PhD to conduct a study on the psychological impact of piracy on seafarers. The project is being coordinated by Dr. Garfinkle across the Seamen's Church Institute, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute.
Christmas at Sea
With more than 4,300 knitters drawn from all 50 states, SCI’s Christmas at Sea provides over 20,000 hand-knit gifts to merchant mariners working on Christmas Day. Begun in 1898 during the Spanish–American War, Christmas at Sea relies on SCI chaplains who distribute gifts to international seafarers, inland river mariners and offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico throughout the holiday season.
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- Joe Walker, In times of economic struggles, focus stays on training program, Paducah Sun, Front Page, Business Section, Sunday, July 7, 2002
- JENALIA MORENO, Waterway pilots try out new simulator, Houston Chronicle, May 11, 2001
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- PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, January 7, 2011
- Seamen's Church Institute Charts New Course for 21st-Century Ministry, Episcopal Life Online, October 15, 2010
- Seamen's Knit 4 Lent initiative to serve mariners working in Gulf Coast, Episcopal Life Online, February 7, 2008
- David M. Rider named president, executive director of Seamen's Church Institute, Episcopal Life Online, October 2, 2007 http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81831_90629_ENG_HTM.htm
- COREY KILGANNON, Men of the Sea, Marooned at the Ramada, The New York Times, New York and Region, January 22, 2005
- DANIEL J. WAKIN, Marooned, Just Feet From Shore; Tighter Security Keeps Foreign Crews on Ships , The New York Times, New York and Region, July 24, 2003
- JEAN SMITH (Rev.), A Seaman's Plight, The New York Times, Opinion, December 5, 2001
- George Harding, On Admiralty Service, Harpers Magazine, December 1917
- Norman Duncan, Youngsters of the seven seas, Harpers Magazine, December 1910