Today at St. Margaret’s we celebrated Sea Sunday, a day set aside in the year to celebrate and remember those 1.6 million anonymous seafarers whose work provides us with 95% of the goods we want and need to make our lives what they are. These men and women sacrifice much for our sake, often enduring harsh working environments, often unable to return to their own homes for months on end.
We were privileged to be visited by Reverend Tim Tunley, the only full-time Port Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers Scotland, a charity run by Trustees and accredited volunteers. The Mission works to care for seafarers of all nationalities, ranks and beliefs. It has a presence across Scotland and runs out of the seafarers’ centre in Grangemouth. Reverend Tim brings with him a wealth of experience, having served as Vicar in North Yorkshire and Leeds before taking up this post.
The stories he told us illustrated the work the Mission does, from providing free woolly hats and scarves to interceding on behalf of individuals marooned by the sometimes over-riding interests of policy and profit. We heard of the seaman who was denied airfare to his home country because it cost too much, even though the company’s profits from a single voyage would have been in the millions. We heard of another stranded onboard because he didn’t have the right kind of visa to disembark. In both these instances, through personal intervention and working with partner organisations, Tim and The Mission were able to effect meaningful change.
These stories resonated strongly. Who among us has not had the experience of being sequestered from the world at large by the COVID pandemic? In a sense, we have all had a taste of what it must be like to be a seafarer, separated from friends and family for months on end.
We learned how we could help, from volunteering to knitting woolly hats to giving just £10 a month. A thousand people donating this small amount on a regular basis would secure the future of The Mission’s work for years to come.
The congregation and the Rector were pleased to be able to present Reverend Tim with a large box of woolly things to take away. No doubt many of our congregation present today will have chosen to help further and perhaps you can too.
To find out more, visit the Mission To Seafarers Scotland website mtss.scot