A special blessing took place at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, as a representative package of hand knitted hats and scarves, as well as sweatshirts, socks and chocolate bars was placed on the altar, earmarked for Christmastime delivery to Seafarers International House in New York City.
This is the fourth year the church’s knitting group, the Knit-Wits, made sure Seafarers would be warm and not forgotten at Christmas. In the first year of participation, Saint Stephen sent five kits; the second year they doubled their efforts and sent ten; the third year they put together 15 kits and this year collected and packaged 20 kits that will be Christmas gifts.
Seafarers are often isolated and lonely, sometimes without the means to contact family frequently, or purchase needed items while in port. Typical contracts put most at sea for 10 months a year, and they remain a largely forgotten population at the holidays.
Seven Lutheran chaplains support the Seafarers Port Mission. When requested, they will board merchant marine ships to provide pastoral care and counseling. During the holidays, chaplains distribute the packages to ships that port in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia and southern New England that will be out at sea for Christmas.
The 20 satchels arrived intact in early December, according to Ruth Setaro, one of the chaplains who received the donations. “I have a wonderful ship here with a crew of 20 Filipino seafarers,” she wrote. “When the ship leaves New Haven they will be heading with a load of our scrap metal to Turkey, a 14-day trip across the Atlantic. They were so excited to hear that I had Christmas presents for them.” She expressed thanks to the St. Stephen congregation and noted, “You can’t imagine what joy it will bring to these seafarers who will be far away from home and family this Christmas.”
Seafarers International House is an ecumenical mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to seafarers and sojourners, as well as people who are distressed, disadvantaged, and displaced. For more information, check out https:/www.sihnyc.org.
For more information about the church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) . The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Stow, and Bolton.