Mission to Seafarers, Yokohama
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Chaplain's Report 2019

The Port of Yokohama continues to maintain a significant volume of trade both with ocean-going and domestic traffic. In particular, the most significant increases have been seen in domestic and overseas passenger ship traffic. By taking advantage of its location, Yamashita Pier is currently undergoing urban waterfront redevelopment. The majority of container traffic is still to be found in Honmoku Pier. It covers about 50 percent of the Port of Yokohama’s container throughout as well as Minami Honmoku Pier which can accommodate the increasing size of container vessels. Daikoku Pier continues to be a main pier for car carriers. Also respond to the acceptance of giant cruise ships that cannot pass Yokohama Bay Bridge.          

This year has been a busy and productive year for the Mission with the basic programme of ship visiting during the day time and providing transportation for seafarers from and back to their ships in the evening. We have visited 395 ships this year and provided transportation services over 258 seafarers. The Mission which carries out a ship visiting centred ministry, relies heavily on volunteers and without their help we would not be able to fulfil as much need as we do. This means that volunteer recruitment is an essential part of our ministry. Thankfully, two new volunteers, Dennis Stanworth and Lisa Bond, have joined the Mission last Summer. At present, we have four ship visiting volunteers. We also regularly visit the hospital to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to hospitalized seafarers, with the collaboration of the Port-Medical Services Yokohama. We continue to enhance good relationships with local people and organizations linked to the welfare of seafarers, such as the ITF, JSU, USS Club, AoS and the Port Welfare Committee, etc. 

Here are some of the things that have happened. 

Every year of the month of December is dedicated to the distribution of Christmas gifts to seafarers. Last year over 400 gift packets were collected/donated by the Japanese churches and packed by the Kanto Gakuin University students. Without their wholehearted support, this campaign would not have been possible.

In July, together with our volunteers and the congregation members of the Diocese of Yokohama we also distributed Sea Sunday gifts to seafarers. Over 300 gift packets were collected by the St Maur International School and the Diocese of Yokohama.    

In September, we were involved with the annual Sports Week for seafarers that was hosted by the USS Club. A total of 98 seafarers from 14 ships representing 13 nationalities took part in the games. The MtS Yokohama Supporters Gathering was held at the USS Club with the presence of 11 volunteers and supporters. It aims not only to share the Mission’s activities and direction but also to foster fellowship among them. I also delivered a talk about the work of the MtS to over 100 congregation members at St Andrew’s Cathedral. This was a good opportunity for them to better understand our work.  

In October, there was the MtS Japan Celebratory Maritime event with the presence of HRH The Princess Royal. We had a church service and around 180 people attended. Following the service, HRH met our supporters and volunteers at the parish hall and presented Alan Brady with certificate of recognition of his long service, then attended a private lunch with key shipping leaders in Japan. This was a good chance for the MtS Japan to enhance its presence and ministry in Japan. We would like to send a big thanks to all the guests and supporters of the MtS as well as the congregations of Yokohama Christ Church and Yamate Seikokai, who made the event so memorable and meaningful.

Last but not least, few problems have been reported to me by the seafarers. The most important problem facing the seafarers today is the short stay in port. Ships are staying for fewer hours and this means little or no shore time for seafarers. It also means we need to spend more time on ship visiting ministry. It encourages me to reflect on the followings: How to have a higher quality in my ship visiting? How to be more attentive to seafarers? How can we offer practical, emotional, spiritual support they might expect? I ask for God’s strength and guidance as I carry out my ministry in the year ahead.                  

I would like to express my deepest thanks to everyone who enables me to continue to serve the seafarers and their families.   

Simon Ro

Chaplain, Yokohama         

THE MISSION TO SEAFARERS JAPAN CELEBRATORY MARITIME EVENT

The MtS Japan celebratory maritime event was held on October 13th at Yokohama Christ Church with the presence of HRH Princess Anne, who is the president of MtS. HRH Princes Royal was joined by her husband Sir Timothy Laurence, along with other guests including diplomats and businessmen representing Japan's shipping industry, who all attended the service and celebratory reception.

The Mission to Seafarers has a proud tradition of supporting seafarers here in Japan since 1880s, when a small centre was opened in the fast-growing port of Yokohama, initially as a refuge from alcohol but quickly widened its purpose to offer a welcome to all seafarers. Since those early days, the Mission has expanded its presence to Kobe and Tomakomai and today, all three locations offer a range of services for visiting seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race or creed.

Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of MtS, said: We are very proud that the Mission to Seafarers Japan is part of our global family of welfare centres, chaplains, staff and volunteers in over 200 ports around the world. For well over a century, seafarers visiting Japan have benefited from their support and it is an honour to celebrate their contribution to the wellbeing of the men and women serving at sea."

Ms Lisa Bond, Priest’s Warden of YCC, said: “Today was a special Celebration of Mission to Seafarers, and it was a privilege to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Sir Timothy Lawrence and Ambassador Madden along with guests from near and far to help in the celebration. It was a particularly beautiful celebration -- made all the more so -- because of the beautiful sunshine and smiles of relief on the faces of everyone present. Even the special police remarked at how they were being awoken all through the night with alarms going off and loud speakers blaring warnings in Japanese. But even so, they were all smiles and quite happy to be at Yokohama Christ Church today.

Primate Nathaniel Uematsu spoke with us about his personal connection to Mission to Seafarers. His grandfather, the second son of a Nichiren Buddhist family, wanted to become a "hero" and make a lot of money. Back during the middle of the Meiji Period, one way to do that was to become a sailor. On one of his trips transporting goods to Europe, the empty cargo ship he and his fellow seafarers were on (over 150 seafarers) ended up in rough waters during a very bad winter storm. The vessel was damaged and he and his fellow seafarers ended up staying in England for 5 months as the ship was being repaired. It was at that time that his grandfather met a missionary with the Mission to Seafarers and from that time on he began to study the Bible with the missionary every day. His grandfather subsequently was baptized and well ... though he never became the "hero" he had first imagined ... he did in fact become an Anglican priest and began to spread the Gospel in Japan. Primate Nathaniel no doubt traces his own Christian beginnings to the shipwreck and care and dedication of the missionary in England more than 100 years ago. That service and dedication is what Mission to Seafarers is all about, and I pray that we can continue to support the mission and the chaplains and volunteers that reach out to the seafarers that visit the ports here in Japan.

Today, I would like to personally thank the other Vestry members for all their hard work in helping with the planning and executing of today's service. Special services always take special preparation and care, but today's was a little beyond the normal special preparation. Even so, the service went without any problem, and in Japanese style prompt and timed exactly so that Her Royal Highness could proceed with her other activities this afternoon. A special thanks to Yuka Ito for organizing the joint choir with Mr. Agata from YSKK and for working with the choir and congregations to make this service meaningful for all who were there. THANK YOU EVERYONE!”

Chaplain's Report 2018


2018 has been a special and eventful year for the MtS Yokohama. The former chaplain Andrew Dangerfield left Yokohama last July after serving six years of his ministry. From last June, I have started my new ministry in the Port of Yokohama. For the Diocese of Yokohama, Bishop Laurence Minabe retired last March. He has been a very good friend of the Mission having himself worked as a chaplain in other parts of the world during his ministry. Last September, Bishop Ignatius Irie was consecrated as the bishop of Yokohama. I believe that for growth to happen, change must occur. As a theologian said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” With the help of these words of wisdom, I am trying to carry out my new ministry in a new environment.

Having only arrived at the end of May 2018, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the entire events of the fiscal year 2017-2018. However, I would like to clarify our value as follows: our value is to live in communion with others including all seafarers, and with the world, participating in the life of the triune God’s dynamic relationships, which implies the intrinsic mutual indwelling and self-giving and receiving which exist in the life of the Trinity. Our objective in promoting our values is to develop a ministry of an integrated care combined with a practical and a spiritual one.

I have divided my report into the two following parts: 1) what we have achieved; 2) what we want to achieve.

I: WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED

We carry out a ship visiting centred ministry. We have visited 517 ships this year and provided transportation services to over 361 seafarers. We also regularly visit the hospital to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers, providing Wi-Fi service and taking Holy Communion to them.

In November, the Mission was asked by a ship owner to support a crew where the chief engineer had died of a heart attack on board. The captain and the crew were devastated by this tragedy and requested the help of the Mission to provide support to the crew. We accompanied the medical agent, doctor and ship owner’s representatives by small launch out to the vessel that was being held at anchorage in Tokyo Bay. Once on board and the body of the C/E had been examined by the doctor we were able to offer a Mass for the repose of the soul of the C/E and for the spiritual support of the rest of the crew. Having spent a couple of hours on board we then returned to shore with the C/E’s body for repatriation to his home country of the Philippines. His wife and other family members were immensely grateful for our support.

Every year the month of December is dedicated to the distribution of Christmas gifts to ships visiting the port. We were pleased to give out a total of 420 gifts in 2017. We were very grateful for the help and generosity of local communities including the members of Yokohama Christ Church, local parish churches, and the students at the Kanto Gakuin University. Our Christmas Gift campaign would not have been possible without their wholehearted support.  

II: WHAT WE WANT TO ACHIEVE

To achieve our objectives, we want to focus on the two following areas in the coming year. First, developing our presence in the ports of Yokohama and Tokyo, and second, increasing our resources.

In order to develop our presence in the ports of Yokohama and Tokyo, we will try to enhance relationships with local people and organizations linked to the welfare of seafarers. At present, during the third week of the month I spend a day with our AoS colleagues in the Port of Tokyo. 

In conjunction with developing our presence, we will try to increase our resources. There is little knowledge and understanding about maritime chaplaincy in the Port of Yokohama. This has hindered us from increasing our resources such as fundraising and volunteer invitations. In order to overcome these challenges, we plan on establishing an advisory group for the MtS Yokohama next year, which can provide practical assistance.

Lastly, I would like to thank many Yokohama Christ Church members and our ship visiting volunteers Paul Hoshino, Koichi Segawa, and Jennifer Jones, for their help in personnel, Christmas gifts, financial and spiritual support. Many Thanks to Andrew Dangerfield, our Regional Director Stephen Miller, Paul Tolhurst in Kobe, for their constant friendship and support. Many thanks also to Rika and the Kobe committee members for their support in many ways. A big thank you to seafarers who make our work possible with their hospitality on board. 

Simon Ro

Chaplain     

Join us on Sea Sunday 14th July 2019!


Celebrating seafarers all over the world who work tirelessly to bring us the goods we rely on every day 

Sea Sunday is the global celebration of the enduring and vital work of the Mission to Seafarers. It has been happening every year for 160 years and is the Mission to Seafarers' biggest fundraising event of the year. On Sea Sunday, Anglican churches around the world can become a powerhouse of prayer and fundraising for the work of the Mission to Seafarers.