Ann Mills Concludes Her SCI Ministry

Jan 21, 2010

On Friday, January 15, SCI said goodbye to Ann Mills, a highly-acclaimed member of staff for the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Ministry on the River program, serving mariners on the United States’ inland river system. Mills, operating out of SCI’s Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY, served inland river mariners most recently with the title Chaplain. Mills was instrumental in the expansion of SCI’s holiday gift giving programs to the domestic waterways.

In a letter to the Board of Trustees, the Rev. David M. Rider, SCI’s President & Executive Director, wrote, “Ann departs with our gratitude for the loving care with which she has approached inland mariners, especially her Christmas on the River and Easter on the River outreach.”

SCI celebrated her pastoral skills last week in a small, celebratory luncheon at which the Rev. Jim Wilkinson, fellow Chaplain for Ministry on the River, gave the following speech, reprinted below:

     Ann, my cherished friend, my faithful colleague in the Ministry on the River:

You have distinguished yourself as a good person and an unfailing friend to mariners, not seeking any reward other than to know that your contributions were making a difference.

Ask any number of deckhands how “sooge” is spelled, and you will get any number of different answers. You decided how it was spelled when you put it in a word-search puzzle for our publication Life Raft.

As the Coordinator of Special Projects for the Ministry on the River, you led the annual Christmas on the River and Easter on the River projects, which every year grew in the number of boats and the number of mariners reached, exceeding 1200 boats and approaching nearly 10,000 mariners.

When disaster struck with hurricanes Katrina and Rita hitting our coast, you were the point person for the Seamen’s Church Institute in dispensing aid to so many who suffered the ravages of those storms. When praised for your efforts, you modestly said you were just doing your job.

You popularized the slogan, “We’re there for you.” And by everything you said and did and by all that you were, you indeed were there. It won’t be the same without you.

Here in Paducah you are well known and greatly appreciated. The Port of Paducah Propeller Club in 2006 named you the Maritime Person of the Year. You were honored by being named a Kentucky Colonel and Duchess of Paducah and were given the McCracken County Alben Barkley Award.

You have worked with more than 70 towboat companies and hundreds of contacts and volunteers in churches of more than a dozen denominations in 17 states along the whole expanse of the inland and intra-coastal waterways—and  with  me … extremely well; I thank you for that!

You always reacted with love and concern to every emergency on the river by insuring that a chaplain’s ministry was promptly given.

Some towboat companies invested in our high-tech training after first encountering us through our pastoral ministry. You served with the Center for Maritime Education team and they with you.

Who knows how many boats you christened? You even connected with motorcycle riders in a Poker Ride fundraiser for Ministry on the River. It won’t be the same without you.

I know you above all to be a devoted Christian woman and servant of God, a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church, who has given loving pastoral care to small congregations here in Kentucky.

We know how you love God and how you love us.

You are a person of prayer, who compiled and published our own prayer list for our River Friendly Church partners and our own SCI chapels in NYC and at Port Newark, NJ.

Now it’s our turn to pray for you:   

May the Spirit watch over you every hour, propelling you on a steady course, steering you in the right channel, preserving you afloat, preventing you from foundering.

May the Lord circle you with love, and protect you in danger. The Lord support you at your labors, and help you to bear your cross. The Lord accompany you when you are far from those you love and lonely, and give you a strong anchor in life.

     Ann, my cherished friend, my faithful colleague in the Ministry on the River:

May you take with you the knowledge that you made a difference. It will never be the same without you.