From April 20-22, 2022, NAMMA met in Boston for its first in-person regional meeting since the before the pandemic. The event was hosted by New England Seafarers’ Mission and guests stayed at the historic Mariner’s House in Boston’s North End.
Boston serves as a wonderful place for a NAMMA meeting, as it has been home to a number of NAMMA’s ministries since the 19th century. Mariner’s House, New England Seafarers’ Mission, and Seafarers’ Friend continue to partner with each other to make sure domestic and foreign seafarers are cared for in the port and the region.
The meeting together allowed NAMMA to accomplish some business, but also begin to discuss together in-person the major challenges we had all faced together through pandemic and war. It was useful to be off video call, so that we could have the kinds of general discussions over meals and breaks on changing COVID protocols, vaccination for foreign seafarers, and new programs for seafarers’ welfare.
A key presentation during the meeting was given by Jennifer Koenig on best practices for fundraising in challenging times. Jennifer speaks with the experience of many years of working with the Seamen’s Church Institute and hopes to be useful to NAMMA and its members at our meetings in future years.
Dr. Jason Zuidema spoke on the early history of NAMMA, the first results of research during the pandemic that gathered previously unknown documents the 1930s-1950s. These early documents from a time of depression and war were especially helpful to refocus our common mission and vision in our own context of pandemic, supply chain crunch and the disastrous war in Ukraine since February 2022.
During the meeting we visited New England Seafarers’ Mission and got a tour from director, Rev. Stephen Cushing. The tour gave us a perspective on the deeply negative results of the pandemic on the cruise ship industry, but also on how this mission is poised to get back into the thick of the action as cruising hopes to rebound in 2022.
An overall result of the meeting was a great renewed sense of fellowship across the network and hope for our first in-person conference in Baltimore later in the year.