Seamen's Church marks the expansion of its N.J. mariner center

One of America's largest maritime ministries held a grand reopening of its new and improved International Seafarers' Center at New Jersey's Port Newark.

Seamen's Church President Rev. David M. Rider says a blessing during the rededication of the new International Seafarers' Center. Below, the center at Port Newark is fully open after undergoing a $13 million renovation. (Dom Yanchunas photo)

The Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) consolidated regional operations in the rededicated center near the Newark docks. The $13 million renovation transformed the building into a modern headquarters and home base for services to mariners.

About 200 people, including New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, attended the reopening ceremony and open house May 17. Rev. David Rider, Seamen's Church president and executive director, marked the occasion with prayer.

"I bless this place with the water of life," Rider announced.

The original center opened in the 1960s. The new version adds a new Internet café, telephone carrels, recreation lounge, chapel, business offices and a health and wellness center. The building now houses the Center for Seafarersâ' Rights and the Christmas at Sea program.

Based in New York since 1834, the Seamen's Church describes itself as the most comprehensive mariners' service agency in North America. While some employees recently transferred to the Port Newark offices, SCI's headquarters remain officially on Manhattan's Water Street. The New York Center for Maritime Education has moved to Houston. Seamen's Church also operates a simulator facility at Paducah, Ky., and a seafarers' center in Oakland, Calif.

The center at Port Newark is fully open after undergoing a $13 million renovation. (Photo courtesy Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey)

During the reopening ceremony, seafarers sat nearby and used telephones to call their families overseas. Rider acknowledged the presence of the visiting mariners, and they were invited to lunch.

"Be with them in fair weather and foul" the reverend implored.

By Professional Mariner Staff