SCI–Bay Area Celebrates Refurbishment

Sep 28, 2009

by the Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director

On Thursday, September 24, more than 60 old and new friends of the Oakland International Maritime Center (IMC) gathered to celebrate the refurbished Center and its renewed ministry to seafarers in the Bay Area under new management by the Seamen's Church Institute (SCI).

I, along with SCI's Associate Director of Development, Jennifer Koenig, represented the home office in New York. We worked closely with SCI's new Bay Area Development Coordinator Adrienne Yee (herself a former seafarer), coordinating chaplain Jim Lindstrom, and volunteer administrator Bob McKoon to complete preparations and plan the party that served as the IMC's first fundraiser under new management.

Surrounded by beautiful table settings and bountiful food, we welcomed guests and shared our vision for renewed ship visiting and hospitality ministry that works cooperatively with Episcopalians, American Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Korean Presbyterians. Guests included current and former members of sponsoring boards, along with volunteers who actively care for seafarers entering the Port of Oakland and surrounding ports. A representative from the San Francisco Bar Pilots and nearby terminal operators also graced the crowds. A few guests arrived at the IMC for their first visit and exposure to our mission.

For more than 20 years, the IMC has functioned faithfully with big hearts and incredible volunteer support. I pray that we can keep the wonderful spirit of this place, strengthen its administration, and increase its financial support by the maritime and church communities.

As the springboard to the next generation of service to seafarers entering the Port of Oakland, we have given the IMC a major facelift. Staff and volunteers coordinated repainting the entire interior with bold primary colors and the repair of interior floors and exterior decks. New furniture and chairs for use by visiting seafarers arrived two days earlier, and landscape volunteers put finishing touches on the surrounding gardens just hours before guests arrived. An Internet café-freshly painted and furnished-opened the next morning with three computers, space for laptops, and much needed Wi-Fi access for communication with families back home.

Nine large photo art renderings by legendary maritime photographer Gregory Thorp dazzled guests with beautiful depictions of ships and port life. While I was there, I saw that visiting seafarers immediately gravitated to the photos within minutes after they were mounted on the walls.

Adrienne Yee, who circumnavigated the globe 17 times as a seafarer, will strengthen IMC relationships with the Port community and surrounding churches. The Rev. Jim Lindgren will reach out to surrounding seminaries to use the IMC as a training site. Jim will also coordinate the chaplains and ship visitors that represent the sponsoring denominations. Volunteer Bob McKoon gives two days per week of service to the IMC, inspiring other volunteers to give of themselves in similar ways.

For more information about the IMC and the Seamen's Church Institute's mission to seafarers, contact Adrienne Yee, Bay Area Development Coordinator, at ayee@seamenschurch.org or (510) 839-2226.