2020 was a year of thinking outside the box in many aspects of life, work, and ministry, and port ministry was no different. Because of current restrictions, we decided to put all the gifts given to each ship in a single ship’s box, though each box included some individual gifts as well, such as a knitted cap, buff or scarf, athletic socks, toothbrushes, snacks, and even St. Nicholas medals. All this would have been impossible without the people of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. With your help, the Seafarers Center at the Port of Palm Beach was able to provide 423 mariners on over 28 ships a wrapped Christmas gift box including the individual items, as well as calendars for the ship, DVDs and CDs, bulk quantities of shampoo and conditioners, assorted nuts, and other treats for the traditional Christmas Eve celebrations held on the ships, whether at sea, anchorage, or in port.
On Christmas Day, we celebrated a special service for the four ships in port and 52 mariners attended the service. The cold wind blew as we sung the carols, heard the Gospel of Luke, and celebrated the Feast of the Incarnation outside under a tent. Like many who came to the Christmas Pilgrimage at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, it was the first time that most (maybe all) of the mariners of those attending had communion in months. Hosts consecrated in our Garden Chapel filled all those on a windy Christmas Day with the love of Christ, which is the surest balm for the soul.
The Christmas gift boxes were a much-needed boost for the morale of the crews, as the Christmas season, which, under normal circumstances, is a stressful and often depressing time for mariners far from home, this year was even more so. A special thank you for the amazing organizational skills, research, and logistical planning of Phyllis and Jim Goodner, as well as Kate Winseck, whose efforts and love of this ministry are inspirational. It is through them and all Bethesdans who volunteered or gave to this ministry that we are able to make the love of God known here and, literally, to the ends of the earth. Thanks be to God!
The Rev. Clayton Waddell
Deacon for Port Ministry