Ministry to Seafarers

Rev. Gary Roosma, Chaplain

401 E. Waterfront Rd. Vancouver, BC V6A 4G9


FaceBook and Instagram: Ministry to Seafarers Vancouver

Email: crcvanportchaplain@gmail.com

In This Edition:

  • Ministry to Seafarers during COVID-19
  • Internship
  • Christmas at Sea
  • New Collaborations
  • Port Alberni Update
  • Prayer and Praise


Greetings from the Ministry to Seafarers, and Welcome to this online COVID-19 edition of the Newsletter for Fall 2020. This has indeed been an interesting season - for all of us - and the pandemic has also impacted Ministry here in the port.

Bread delivery on board.

Ship visiting during Covid-19 has been limited primarily to visits to the gangway only. Masks and other appropriate health precautions are a regular part of our daily routine now. In spite of the limitations, these visits have become even greater priorities for us, since most crew have not been able to access the seafarers centres during this time. In fact, the centres were completely closed down from mid-March to mid-July.

In addition, during this time crew sign off at the end of their contracts has been extremely challenging. It has meant that many on board have been on extended contracts, sometimes for up to 15, 16, or even 17 months. At the same time, others who are stuck back in their home countries have faced long periods of unemployment. Several of the crew on this ship could not travel home at the end of their contracts, so the Philippine consulate in Vancouver provided special care packages for each seafarer and asked us to deliver them to the ship.

With ship crews unable to go ashore, we began distributing care packages to them to provide them with a few of the simple things they usually enjoy purchasing at the seafarers centres, but now cannot. Things like chips, chocolates, cookies, etc., along with encouraging Scripture flyers and prayers.

In July the restrictions on shore leave were relaxed somewhat and seafarers were once again allowed "controlled shore leave" by Transport Canada for short periods of time. Ships have also begun allowing some limited entry into their vessels. Some crews are able to come to the centres now, but most ships are still not allowing shore leave in an abundance of caution. Crew change is somewhat more manageable, but still challenging.


One of the valued services we provide is free wifi service at our centres and internet SIM cards for their phones. Seafarers, like all of us, really do want to stay in touch with their families and other loved ones back home. Some ships provide internet connections on board, but others do not, or it is very limited and expensive. Sometimes just offering them a temporary hotspot on board can be a huge bonus. The BC Pilots Association (ship pilots, that is) gave a sizeable donation to the centres that has enabled us to distribute some SIM cards free of charge. And the general sale of SIM cards has increased exponentially.

A recent Covid case on board.

With ships typically at sea for weeks on end and the crews effectively isolated from most outside contact, their situations are relatively safe on board. They have more to fear of infection from us going on board, than we do from them coming ashore. However, there have been a few cases on ships in recent months, due mainly to new crew signing on.

Shopping at the Roberts Bank Seafarers Centre - first time off their ship in many months!

With the seafarers centres now open again, for those crews that have been able to come ashore and visit, finally shopping, connecting, and getting that all important break from the ship again has been a welcome relief. You can almost see the smiles on their faces, even behind the masks.

Jennifer Roosma, Rev. Vincent Ng, myself, and Rev. Peter Smyth (Anglican chaplain) at the seafarers centre for this summer's Cycle for Seafarers.

The most vital service we still bring though is that of presence. Offering a listening ear, an encouraging word, the assurance of prayers for them (and with them when they're open to that), and sharing God's Word - all of these simple acts minister in ways beyond what we can even imagine. God is at work in the port!


Over the past year we have been blessed with services of our intern, Rev. Vincent Ng. Vincent worked first for a half year under the Anglican Mission to Seafarers. Since January he has been serving under our CRC Ministry to Seafarers. His internship stopped for a time due to the pandemic, but since July Vincent has been back serving here in the port. His internship ends in mid-October. Below is his report. Thank you for your service, Vincent!

What I could offer to the seafarers during a pandemic?

(A pre-pandemic photo of Vincent)

I always have this question in my mind as a port chaplain: what kind of things I could offer to the seafarers especially during the pandemic? Other agencies or parties might offer seafarers with tracts about their organizations, ideologies and the like. However, as port chaplains of the Mission to Seafarers, we offer not only care packages of chips, chocolates, candies, popcorn and necessary information about the seafarers’ center and the port. We offer appreciation, care, and encouragement to each and every seafarer.

In addition, what I would really like to offer is prayers and blessings. I always pray with the seafarers when I visit and speak with them on the gangway. I pray that God will watch over each and every seafarer, keep them safe from danger, protect them from infection of COVID-19, take care of them when feeling lonely, and bring them safely home to see their loved ones, Amen.

I also mobilize everyone in my Christian social circle to intercede for the seafarers. Meantime, I would like to take hold of this opportunity and invite you to spare a moment to pray for the seafarers. Each one of them needs God’s divine help in knowing Him and being a follower of Christ Jesus. by grace, Vincent


We are planning to distribute Christmas gifts again this year, and are now beginning to purchase and prepare items for the gift bags. As always, we welcome your donations towards this cause that enable us give these gifts that the seafarers so appreciate and look forward to. Send donation cheques to: Ministry to Seafarers, 401 E. Waterfront Rd., Vancouver, BC, V6A 4G9. You can also donate online through our website at www.ministrytoseafarers.com. For further inquiries, email Gary at: crcvanportchaplain@gmail.com.

We also need more knitted toques this year. The pandemic seems to have affected the supply chain and we are very low, without enough to fill the Christmas bags. You can either send them to us, or contact Rev. Gary Roosma to discuss other ways of getting those toques to us. Thank You!


One of the positive results of this pandemic season has been the establishment of a new Port Welfare Committee (PWC) here in Vancouver. The PWC is made up of port chaplains from all the seafarers centres here, along with representatives from the Chamber of Shipping, Vancouver Port Authority, International Transport workers Federation (ITF, union reps), ILWU, Transport Canada, shipping companies, shipping agents, and the like. The current difficult situation for seafarers has created a new awareness among many of the needs of seafarers.

This committee has been tasked with advocating on behalf of seafarers, working together to communicate these needs among the whole port community, and taking whatever steps we can to assist seafarers and help to alleviate some of their distress. The immediate action taken has been to draw up a comprehensive list of agreed upon COVID-19 protocols for all to follow, especially to help ensure the health and safety of seafarers, and help them get the shore leave that they so badly need and desire.


Read below this report from Matt Gregory of the Upper Room Seafarers Centre in Port Alberni, which is supported by and connected with the Ministry to Seafarers, as well as locally by the Alberni Valley CRC.

We were delighted to be able to deliver a cake, ice cream and gifts to John Aposaga on his birthday and his first visit to Port Alberni. With him and his 2OFF Kim, are some of our Seafarers Mission volunteers.

Crew sign off at end of contract is challenging all over the world. We celebrate with each one who is able to finally go home!

The Port Alberni Port Authority has restricted ship visits to the bottom of the gangway only. Crew can visit the centre on their own, but staff only drop in occasionally for cleaning and check-in purposes.

We can’t thank Canadian Tire here in Port Alberni enough for giving us such a great deal on the basketball hoops and the Port Authority permission to paint an NBA sized court on their property for the seafarers to use while they are here. There must be some kind of underground telegraph that tells Filipino crews that the basketball court is for their exclusive use! The captain of Iyo Sea had the guys out playing right after they tied up on arrival.

Without doubt, COVID has put a real cramp in our ministry but everybody is trying to cope as best they can. They really seem to appreciate us telling them that our hearts go out to them and their families that they miss so intensely and that we will not forget them in our daily prayers for their health and safety.

Pray for the team and ministry in Port Alberni. The number of ships docking here has decreased in recent years and we are discussing how best to proceed with ministry. Yet for those crew who do visit the port, the ministry and service of the Upper Room Seafarers Centre there continues to be a blessing and encouragement.


  • Praise as we've been able to continue ministering to the many seafarers who visit this area all through this Covid season.
  • Pray for the health and safety of seafarers and their families back home, as well as for our visiting chaplains, centre staff, and volunteers.
  • Praise for advocacy action taken on behalf of seafarers through the likes of the new Port Welfare Committee and other local, national & international efforts.
  • Pray that all those we come into contact with would experience and recognize the love of Jesus for them.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for all your support!

Created By
Gary Roosma