A kneeler under a tapestry depicting The Last Supper sits in the corner of the three story New England Seafarer’s Mission building adjacent to Cruiseport Boston on Black Falcon Ave. Founded for seamen and immigrants in 1881 as the Scandinavian Seaman’s Mission, the organization has gone through multiple transformations and today serves cruise ship staff, port workers, and seafarers working on container ships.
Supported primarily by the Covenant Churches, the Mission offers this small chapel / prayer area alongside free high-speed internet, a MoneyGram facility, and a small store stocked with toiletries, candy and treats from around the world. Bibles in multiple languages fill shelves next to brochures about safety and the rights of seafarers. The facility is busiest from May through October when cruise ships come in to port and crew members have a few hours off to stretch their legs, call home, send money home, and maybe do some shopping. Executive Director Steve Cushing and port visitors also board container ships year-round offering a welcome, phone cards and assistance – especially for seafarers without visas to come on shore.
Previously located on Commonwealth Pier, Charlestown Navy Yards, a building near the World Trade Center, and then in a trailer that blew away during a hurricane, the current cruise ship ministry developed in the early 1990s after cruise ships started to stop in Boston, initially on Boston-Bermuda runs. Banks of pay phones are history while warm handshakes and smiles remain. The chapel itself has moved and changed over time. Cushing explains “Your volunteers are really your chapel. If you don’t have volunteers reaching out then you don’t have a chapel.”
For more information: http://neseafarers.org/