On Tuesday, February 11, 2020 I had the pleasure of visiting The Seaman’s Church Institute’s Center for Maritime Ministry, Houston International Seafarers Center, and Blessey Marine’s M/V Jack Haskell hosted by Port Captain Ben and Pilot Allan. I met Rabbi Jonathan Siger, from Houston Jewish community North in Spring. Rabbi Siger is also a Police Chaplain. River Chaplain Associate Diane Bacon Burson was also able to join us. Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston member Bill Mintz was present. Bill wrote a Living Lutheran article on Chaplain Rhoades: https://www.livinglutheran.org/2018/12/ministry-on-the-river/.

HISC Chaplain, Rev. Tom Edwards is the blue water chaplain (ocean vessels). He educated us on the issues ship mariners face. Chaplain Tom Rhoades is the brown water chaplain (vessels on the river and Inter-coastal Waterway).

The Toms:

80% of all good come by ship, through our ports. Beaumont, TX, Baton Rouge, Corpus,

There are 11,000 “calls” at the Port of Houston each year. 115,000 seafarers/year, from 72 countries. The Houston Seafarer’s Church Institute is the first ecumenical one in the world. They get 12,000 Christmas shoeboxes to give to Seafarer’s. For some this is the only Christmas gift they will receive. They give out Bibles in 48 languages.

New Orleans and Houston are two of the busiest ports. Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Corpus and Texas City are close behind in tonnage.


The Seaman’s Church Institute has providing training for pilots for years. Here they are using the Navi-Trainer Professional 5000 simulator.

Chaplain Tom Rhoades.

Port Captain Ben

Chaplain Edwards and Rabbi Siger