Welcome to the Port of Belfast web page for Seamen's Christian Friend Society. I am Sam Cowan and it has been my honour and privilege to serve as Port Chaplain for Belfast for 21 years. I would like to bring you up to date with some of the ways we carry Christ's message to seafarers visiting this port.
We continue to provide free transport to the Mission Centre, Cityside Shopping Centre, Connswater Shopping Centre, Hollywood Exchange, Belfast City Centre, Titanic Experience, Normadic, H.M.S. Caroline. We also provide transport to churches close to the Harbour plus transport to hospital or doctors' appointments.
Pastoral Care During COVID 19
This is an important aspect of our ministry to all on board, no matter what their faith or creed. Pastoral care is more important today because of the virus, and is remotely achieved by the internet and video calls.
Crew members today, need a listening ear more than ever or some form of counselling in a personal way as they are isolated and facing longer times away from home and family due to the lockdown restrictions. We have been helping them in whatever way we can by phone, text messages and video calls and then we praying with them.
While it is impossible to take seafarers to local churches or spend time with them on board the ship in prayer and in Bible study to encourage their faith in God, I have been given the opportunity to conduct daily devotions for some crews earlier on in the pandemic and personal Bible Studies with some individual seafarers from the Philippines.
The welfare of seafarers covers many different areas, from individual concerns about safety on board and ashore, to their emotional and social wellbeing. We work alongside the Mission to Seafarers and Stella Maris in Belfast who are better placed to deal with some needs that may arise.
It is a privilege to be able to continue to supply crew members with some of their basic needs, such as good warm clothing, toiletries.
Communication with family has been enhanced by the provision for a MiFi Unit that SCFS has been provided with through a grant with the MNWB here is the MiFi unit.
Taking Seafarers to hospital or to a doctor when required or seafarers who is detained in hospital. Currently during the COVID crisis I have been active in counselling two seafarers who have had suicidal thoughts and depression. Praise God both are well.
We continue to use literature through our ministry to the crews with books being sent to seafarers at their home. Despite the widespread use of electronic devices, there is still a large demand for Bibles. DVDs of church services are a real blessing to both lonely Christians and to Bible Fellowships on the Cruise Ships that come to port. Books on the Christian life and Christian biographies are always well received, as are those that explain the books of the Bible. I have used Emmaus Bible Correspondence Study Courses to good effect with crew members and the recently-introduced yearly Bible readings from 'Our Daily Bread Ministries' have been very effective, especially for those in other languages.
We need your support
During these strange days for ministry is heavily reliant on the practical help we receive from our supporters. This may take the form of daily prayer, as well as financial help or donations of books and Bibles for us to distribute onboard. Warm clothes are always well received by crew members and many supporters knit hats and scarves for us throughout the year. While we are unsure as to the days ahead if you would like to donate toiletries for the seafarers to use as gift items in our Christmas boxes then please do so and nearer the time we will see the best way to distribute them.
While churches are closed for the moment, why not invite me, or your local Port Missionary/Chaplain, to partake in your church's Zoom meetings on a Sunday or midweek prayer meeting. Or if you feel you could use a short video update then please contact me as we can accommodate that as well. So please remember that your partnership is vitally important in taking the "Good News of the Gospel to the Nations of the World that meet on Your Doorstep" of our local Ports.