Navigating the Waves of Maritime Ministry: A Journey from Online Learning to In-Class Experience

As the maritime industry continues to evolve, the need for well-equipped and compassionate individuals in maritime ministry becomes increasingly crucial. To address this, in November 2023 ICMA led a comprehensive series of lessons blending online and in-class experiences to provide a holistic understanding of the challenges and responsibilities associated with maritime ministry.

The in-class portion of the course in Hamburg from November 19-25, welcomed 24 students from ICMA members worldwide to learn the basics of seafarers’ welfare and maritime ministry. Students arrived from the UAE, Finland, Spain, Ecuador, United States, Canada, UK, Wales, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, and Germany.

Support for the course came from local organizations Deutsche Seemannsmission and Stella Maris. Further financial support was received from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The Seafarers’ Charity.

Before the official start of the weekly lessons, all students were required to complete the MNWB’s online Ship Welfare Visitor Course. After that, students completed lessons on prepared by ICMA’s Jason Zuidema on Combatting “Sea Blindness”, finding resources for maritime ministry, and best practices in ship visiting.

Participants arrived on the evening of November 19 at Deutsche Seemannsmission Hamburg-Altona for registration and the opening session. The evening included a welcome, course introduction, opening prayer, and an opening meal, allowing for initial connections and networking.

On Monday, November 20, students transferred to the training center at Missionsakademie an der Universität Hamburg. Here, Professor Dr. Max Johns delved into the “Basic Economics of Shipping.” The day continued with a Hamburg harbour boat tour and an evening lecture by Dr. Jason Zuidema on the “Mission and History of Maritime Ministry.”

On the second day, Phil Schifflin from the Center for Mariner Advocacy, Seamen’s Church Institute, guided participants through “MLC,2006, Seafarers Rights, and Advocacy.”

The third day covered diverse topics, including perspectives on seafarers’ welfare from industry and government, insights into ITF and occupational safety, and a discussion on promoting ecumenical relations. Presenters included Wiebke Peterson of the German Shipowners’ Association and Markus Wichmann of the ITF. Monica Döring of Stella Maris and Sören Wichmann of the Deutsche Seemannsmission explained their respective organizations and highlighted why ecumenical partnerships were so important. The evening offers a visit to the vibrant Reeperbahn neighborhood, led by Pastor Sighard Wilm.

Rev. Götz-Volkmar Nietzel of the Nordkirche led a session on “Communication for Seafarers’ Ministry” in the morning, followed by Dirk Obermann discussing “Crisis Communication and Response in Seafarers’ Ministry” in the afternoon of the fourth day. The evening concluded with a tour and meal at Duckdalben Seafarers’ Centre.

The final day included a session on “Vision and Mission for Maritime Ministry” by Dr. Jason Zuidema, followed by group work and course conclusions.

In the ever-changing landscape of maritime ministry, this comprehensive and dynamic approach to learning ensures that participants are well-prepared to navigate the challenges and contribute meaningfully to the welfare of seafarers. Whether online or in the bustling port city of Hamburg, the lessons offer a unique blend of theory, practical insights, and networking opportunities, fostering a community dedicated to the well-being of those who brave the seas.

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NAMMA members receive a print copy of The MARE Report, NAMMA’s annual magazines for seafarer’s welfare professionals