Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA have a German Seamen's Mission at Seafarers & International House?
Actually, the German Seamen's Mission of New York was founded in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1907 by German-language churches, people from the German Consulate and German shipping interests. In those days, Hoboken was called "Little Bremen" because that was where the German ships docked, and there were a lot of German seamen wandering around Hoboken who needed pastoral and practical care. A Seamen's House was purchased on Hudson Street in 1907 and a lively ministry began. The German Seamen's Mission of New York became a member of the Metropolitan New York Synod in 1974. In 2012 the GSM formally completed a merger with SIH. The German language ministry continues now under the roof of SIH in Manhattan. This merger creates a team of chaplains who work together to serve as many seafarers as possible on the many ships that arrive in the ports of New York and New Jersey every day.
Are you affiliated with the German Seamen's Mission in Germany?
Yes, we are an independent branch of the network of stations that is headquartered in Bremen, Germany. Yet we are "independent" because of our particular history (see above). We receive no money from Germany and are self-supporting. Since 2012 we are part of the ministry of Seafarers & International House. We do have very friendly relations with Germany and often participate in their events.
How are you financed?
The Seamen's House in Hoboken and another house on West 22nd Street in Manhattan were sold in the 1970s, and the proceeds provide investment income to finance the ministry throughout the years. However, through the merger with SIH the remaining monies from the GSM became part of the endowment of SIH in order to guarantee the continuation of the German language ministry as an integral part of the overall approach of this diverse and international ministry. We need and welcome donations from churches, shipping companies and individuals.
Are there many German seafarers nowadays?
Germany is one of the world's largest suppliers of container ships (approximately 60%), many of which are chartered to companies all around the world. The Port of New York and New Jersey has as many as ten German vessels a week. A typical German ship has two to six officers from Germany or another European Union country such as Poland. The other crewmembers are Filipinos, Kiribatis and other South Pacific islanders, Eastern Europeans and people of other nationalities. (Most container ships have a crew of about twenty-two.)
How does your day-to-day ministry look like?
I drive out to the docks and go onboard the ships, since the seafarers have little time to go ashore. (Most ships dock for less than sixteen hours.) I bring magazines and newspapers in various languages, telephone cards, Bibles and devotional material, postcards, stamps, maps and tourist information. If time allows, I take crewmembers ashore for shopping or sightseeing. My ministry is to the "whole person" and aims to show that the Church cares for these visitors from foreign countries who lead very isolated lives on board.
What can I do to help?
You can support us with prayers, donations, and gifts for seafarers at Christmas.
If you have any other questions feel free to contact us!
The Rev. Arnd Braun-Storck, Seafarers' Pastor