Sunday, April 14, 2024

Ministers Share ‘Hope of Christ’ with Dali Ship Crew Stuck Beneath Baltimore Bridge Collapse

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As Baltimore officials opened an alternative temporary channel to one of the nation’s busiest commercial shipping hubs Monday, pastors are diligently ministering to crew members who are stuck at the Baltimore Harbor after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

It has been nearly a week since a cargo ship crashed into the bridge, causing a catastrophic and deadly collapse that killed six construction workers.

While the cleanup of concrete and metal has since started and an alternative route has been opened to allow some vessels to bypass the wreckage, little has been said about the Dali ship crew that has been stuck at the port. 

But a group of ministers, who focus their time on the wellbeing of seafarers, are making sure the Dali ship crew has food, Bibles, and much more. 

“My primary focus will be on caring for those seafarers who cannot continue their journeys,” Messick, an Episcopal priest and executive director of Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center, told Word and Way. “Just making sure they have everything that they are supposed to have and everything that they need to make their extended stay here as pleasant as possible.”

According to Messick, the crew has to work on the ship even though part of the vessel still has the bridge wreckage resting on top of it. 

“Until the vessel is considered exceedingly unsafe for them to be on there, they will remain on and continue to do the work that they are – have signed on to do,” he told NPR.

Messick told the outlet he talks with the ship’s crew daily. 

“I am in contact with them over WhatsApp, but their answers have been generally brief,” he said. “I imagine they’re trying to be very careful about how much information they provide, what they say and to whom.”

He continued, “But all in all, the crew is healthy. They’re being provided with everything they need, and they’re assisting in the efforts with the Coast Guard and Customs Border Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers, everyone that’s out there working right now.”

Andy Middleton directs the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Apostleship of the Sea and has also been communicating with the crew. 

He is spending his time assuring them “that we’ll still be here, waiting for them and wanting to help them.”

One of the eight crews that has been stranded is from India. Both Messick and Middleton said they have been providing food that reminds them of home. 

“One of my first thoughts is once the crew gets back into a berth, maybe having a dinner of Indian food cooked and then delivering it to the vessel,” said Middleton, who works with six volunteers. “The cook doesn’t have to cook a meal for the entire vessel. He can take a break and everybody can sit down and eat together.”

Messick told NPR his job is to make sure they continue to get food so that “none of their rights as human beings or as seafarers are violated.”

“My primary focus is to supply emotional support, trauma care, and transportation ashore for those seafarers who can leave,” he added. 

Church Ministers to First Responders

Meanwhile, another Baltimore church has taken it upon themselves to minister to first responders who showed up to clear up the scene and also look for those missing.

Union Baptist Church in Baltimore quickly mobilized “to get boots on the ground as the tangible hands and feet of God.” 

“We got 300 Chic-fil-A sandwiches, chips, cookies, salads, drinks, and we just went out there to love on them and to show our support, and to show them that we are here and to show them the love and hope of Christ as they are working tirelessly around the clock to do the work, reach the people who’ve been impacted and touch their families as well,” Angela Broadus, associate pastor of the church, told local station Fox 5.

 

Kevin Cartwright with the Baltimore City Fire Department told DC News Now he was grateful for the church’s helping hand.

“We have so many emergency workers on the scene. We have firefighters, dive team members, paramedics, public safety, law enforcement. I can’t thank [Union Church] enough for all that they’re doing right now, providing sustenance, love, prayer, and support for our emergency workers,” said Cartwright.

Union Baptist is encouraging believers to continue to pray for everyone involved with the unforeseen circumstances. 

“Our prayer is that the families, loved ones, first responders, government officials, and anyone impacted will feel the peace and love of God during this time,” the church stated in a social media post. 

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