SCI: Take a Closer Look

This is what you might picture when you see the word “seamen” …

An old seaman

You hear somebody mention “church,” you probably think …

A church

If someone talks about an “institute,” you might imagine a place like this …

A columned research institute building

The Seamen's Church Institute

Take a Closer Look

A wavy doodle


The sea conjures up a lot of images—tall-masted battleships, mythical monsters, a novel by Hemingway—mostly things reminiscent of days gone by.

And terms like “sailor”—from the time when ships were powered by sails—and “seaman”—when all seafarers were men—sound like old-fashioned words.

How does all that stuff get here?


But most of us don’t realize that the primary means of trade in the 21st century is the world’s waterways. And international commerce—our entire planet’s economy—depends on professional mariners.

Professional maritime workers

While life at sea is mysterious and unknown to many, it most certainly is not a thing of the past. Today, seafaring men and women play an important part in the lives of ordinary people.


Read more about the mariners SCI serves.

The first word in SCI’s name—coined over a century ago—refers to people who, by any name, deserve our respect and support.


Did you know that most mentions of the word “church” in the Bible refer to faith communities—not physical buildings? When Paul, an early apostle, calls the church the “Body of Christ,” he refers to the people acting as hands and feet to carry out Jesus’ teachings.

Read about “Mariner Friendly Churches.”


The work of the church happens as often outside a place of worship as it does inside. Countless faith communities—including organizations like SCI—demonstrate God’s love by offering hospitality.

Chaplain talking with a mariner

Some folks may wonder if this is a means of recruiting new members, but SCI supports maritime workers regardless of their background or religion, taking Saint Paul’s appeal to heart: “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” (Romans 12:13)


A mariner training on a simulator

To some, the word “institute” implies a sterile laboratory, its scientists disconnected from civilization as they conduct experiments. But there is another kind of institute.

SCI engages with the world and incorporates real-life experience into its mission—always ahead of the trends that shape life on the water. SCI uses seafarer centers and trusted, one-on-one relationships with mariners to anticipate and meet their evolving needs.

An attorney speaking with a seafarer

The many facets of SCI’s institutional work include adult education tailored specifically for professional mariners and advocacy for mariners’ welfare, providing professional legal services free of charge.

SCI understands the challenges mariners face and speaks out for their rights. Throughout its history—as well as today—SCI has helped shape legislation making the world a better place for mariners.

Mariners across the globe

Wavy doodle

SCI’s name celebrates its history and unbroken service to mariners since 1834. Mariners are the backbone of global commerce, and the Seamen’s Church Institute proudly supports hardworking people who make our modern way of life possible.


Explore the history of SCI’s name.

Our mission would not be possible without the help of individuals, churches, corporations and foundations that work with us to serve the needs of mariners, present and future. 

Take a closer look and discover the Seamen’s Church Institute. Learn more about us online or by getting in touch.

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“Take a Closer Look” Illustrations © 2013 Lisa Lavoie