by the Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director
[UPDATE] The Seamen’s Church Institute has established the El Faro Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to the families and dependents of the seafarers lost at sea from the El Faro and other U.S. merchant vessels that may be lost at sea in the future. All of the donations made to this fund go directly to the seafarers’ families and dependents. Thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers and support. Click here to donate now.
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This morning, the United States Coast Guard announced the suspension of its search for the missing crew from El Faro, the vessel that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin last week.
At the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI), we and many others have held our breath for days, waiting for rescuers to discover the location of the missing crewmembers alive and well. We’ve stayed glued to televisions and computers, looking for a glimpse of hope.
The waiting game is one that friends and families of mariners know well. Every time a loved one steps out the door to begin a contract or a shift, we count the days and hours until a safe return. Mariners’ families build lives on the promise of tomorrow. We say goodbye, trusting in the next hello.
In a CNN report issued today, USCG Captain Mark Fedor expressed the difficulty he felt ending the search. Giving up hope doesn’t figure much into the maritime industry’s vocabulary. Life on a vessel means trusting your fellow crew and having courage to face dangers together—a sense of having each other’s back. Speaking about those who work in the maritime, Captain Fedor said, “We’ve been baptized in the same salt waters.”
All of us hope in mariners. Sadly, most of us don’t realize how much. We don’t appreciate how the vast waters of our planet unite distant continents, enabling a network of global transport. Every one of us benefits from mariners’ hard work and skill. We rely on their safe transport of all the things that make our modern way of life possible.
As a human family I call all of us to gather now—this day, when the crew of El Faro dwell beyond our sight and touch. We cannot let the work of mariners and their (and their families’) sacrifices stay hidden nor be forgotten. We must remember and support all those affected by this loss. Pray for the seafarers of the El Faro, their families and those who love them.