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News, Views and Thanks Shared at MtS AGM

Those who came to our Annual General Meeting were among the first to hear our latest good news: seafarer visits and use of our bus services have been steadily increasing in 2023 and 2024. The fixed schedule of pickups and extra services between has allowed the increasing number of Seafarers to enjoy time in our wonderful city, said CEO Clayton Strong. He thanked the donors, supporters, staff and volunteers who helped to make that possible.

Plans for the future and stories of the present were shared, volunteers and retiring staff and supporters were thanked and a new Board member officially welcomed at the event on May 22.

Principal Chaplain Rev Tay shared the success of our latest innovative activity – providing a place that seafarers could collect their letters, cards and parcels from home, friends or from online shopping. This cruise season (October to April) over 1660 parcels were collected from our Centre bringing smiles and pleasure to many Seafarers.

Rev Tay said: “We are a lifeline to them. They can come to get a parcel, then open up to us about their cares and concerns. Many are people from cruise ships who did not know about us before, so this is a great step forward.”

“When we visit them or give simple services like the parcels, we are manifesting the love and hope of Jesus,” he said. “Sometimes they come to get a parcel and end up sharing their spiritual journey even if they are from another faith. They are often spiritually thirsty.”

Chair Robert Dunn thanked the three directors who were re-elected for their continued dedication and service in growing the Mission and keeping it accountable and effective. He officially welcomed newest Board member Commadore Christopher ‘Kit’ Rynd: “a passionate supporter of the needs of seafarers with excellent operational skills and vast maritime experience”. Now working as a consultant, Commodore Rynd spent over 45 years at sea, the majority in cruise ships including as Captain on the iconic QE2 and the Queen Mary 2.

Mr Dunn also thanked Jack Starmans for his 15+ years service with the Mission; his passion and energy was an asset much valued by all the team.

Mr Strong said there had been a steady increase in visits to the Centre and transport from Port Botany from mid-year to December “Year to date we are tracking to significantly exceed the number of seafarers welcomed and transported last year,” he said.

“Seafarers who come to us are often facing the same issues many workers do – tough bosses, long hours, conflict with peers or loneliness. However they are doing so in the pressure cooker environment of a ship and without the opportunity to go home at night, or have easy external support,” he said.

Chaplain Retchie shared how seafarers were finding ways to stay in touch using technology, even long after they left Sydney and our Centre. “This brings new challenges and ways of working. We thank God for the privilege of serving seafarers from all over the globe,” he said.

The presentation culminated in our volunteer Lisa leading a song of praise as she often does when she visits ships with Rev Tay. She shared stories of her experiences such as women cabin crew coming to talk and sometimes “needing just a shoulder to cry on when they’re stressed and missing their families”.

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