SEATTLE (ABP) — Located strategically in the Pacific Rim, the ports of Seattle, Everett and Tacoma make Washington a major maritime influence throughout the world. Commercial and cruise ships from all over the world dock in the Puget.
“Through the [interdenominational] seafarer ministry, the world is literally brought to the waterfront,” said Melinda Reed, worship and community ministries director for Puget Sound Baptist Association. “This ministry reaches out to seamen on incoming ships to meet their physical, spiritual and emotional needs during a vulnerable time.”
Paul Peterson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Tacoma, was a chaplain with the Port Ministry from 1978 to 1990 and still is involved in reaching seamen as a volunteer.
Peterson said the ministry relies on churches to bring the gospel aboard the ships, which often are docked for a few days to take on cargo.
“The initial visit is usually just one person, a volunteer going down and making contact and telling them what's available for the seafarers, like free transportation, things like that. Then we will contact a group from a church to come and bring two, three, four, five, six people.”
The port ministry also relies on the area's blend of ethnic churches to provide a witness shipboard.
“If there's a Ukrainian or Russian ship in, then we call the Ukrainian church, and someone who speaks their language will come down and witness to the seafarers. Today, we have a Filipino church that has come down to visit with the Filipino seafarers,” he said.