Welcome to the German Seamen's Mission at Seafarers & International House in New York! We are a ministry of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are also a member of the worldwide German Seamen's Mission (Deutsche Seemannsmission e.V.) based in Bremen, Germany.
Our mission was founded in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1907 with a Seamen's House on Hudson Street to serve the many German merchant seafarers whose ships docked there. A history of the Mission is part of this web site.
Today, we are part of the ministry at Seafarers & International House, 123 East 15th Street in Manhattan (www.sihnyc.org), an 84-room Lutheran Church guesthouse for merchant mariners, church visitors and tourists who come to New York City. It is located just off Union Square, a lively park that has a well-known farmers' market and is surrounded by interesting shops and restaurants. The subway station at Union Square has many subway lines that go all over the city.
Our main ministry takes place on board the many commercial ships (mostly container ships) that dock in the Port of New York and New Jersey. Each ship has a crew of about 24 seafarers, usually from a variety of countries, and stays in port for loading and unloading of cargo for as little as 6 hours and typically stays around 16 hours. A typical German-flagged ship has a crew of around five German and Polish officers and around 16 Filipino crewmembers. Some German-flag ships have crews from the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati (formerly known as the Gilbert Islands). The officers work a three to six-month contract, and the crew works an eight to nine-month contract. They normally fly from their home country to join the ship, often in New York. These ships sail to Europe, the Far East, South America, and many other places around the world. They carry the imported goods that are sold in our stores and are used every day by people all around the country, and they carry American exports to countries all around the world.
On board we try to support and help with pastoral care needs but also provide practical help as well. This may include to bring Bibles and DVDs featuring local church services and meditations, magazines and books in a variety of languages, and also phone cards to enable the seafarers to phone home at reasonable prices. If possible, we take the seafarers ashore to go shopping or sightseeing and return them to the ship in time to return to work or to sail to the next port. We take the Church and Christ's love to people who are normally unable to go to church or to come to our center in Manhattan. In this ministry, we work closely together with our ecumenical partners from the Roman Catholic mission (Stella Maris), the Seamen's House YMCA, and the Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey.
For many years the German Seamen's Mission had already worked closely with Seafarers & International House (SIH) in ministry to the people who work on merchant ships. (Our office had been in Seafarers & International House since 1983.) As we discerned the future, the Board of Directors of the GSM of New York decided in 2010 that it was time for the German Seamen's Mission of New York to enter into a permanent relationship and become part of SIH's ministry. This step has created a team of chaplains who work together to serve as many seafarers as possible on the many ships that arrive in our port every day. As of July 2012 the German Seamen's Mission of New York is officially part of Seafarers & International House.
We look forward to continue to meet many seafarers on board the many ships we visit every day in the ports of New York and New Jersey and hope to welcome you soon at our guest house in Manhattan.
The Rev. Arnd Braun-Storck, Seamen's Pastor