The Floating Church of the Seamen’s Church Institute

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Information about The Floating Church of the Seamen’s Church Institute
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Published on January 28, 2009

Author: SeamensChurch

Source: slideshare.net

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The Seamen’s Church Institute
About the Anniversary Archive Project

From April Hegner, SCI Archivist

Greetings from the virtual, online museum of the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI)—175 years old in the year 2009. My name is April Hegner, SCI’s archivist during its Anniversary celebration. This year I have the distinct privilege of working in and among the rich and fascinating annals of history at SCI, North America’s largest maritime service organization. I am pleased to share with you some of my findings in several short slideshow presentations as part of the Anniversary Archive Project.

Throughout the year, I will be adding more. You can view them as they are compiled at SCI’s website at www.seamenschurch.org. I hope that you enjoy leafing through these pages of the organization’s history. If you have any questions about this project or any particular item displayed here, you may contact me at ahegner@seamenschurch.org.

The Seamen’s Church Institute’s Anniversary Archive Project 175 Years of Serving the Maritime Community The Floating Church of the Seamen’s Church Institute

The Floating Church of the Seamen’s Church Institute

In the early minutes of the Board Meeting of the Young Men’s Church Missionary Society, as the Seamen’s Church Institute was first known, it is clear that the Board members were in disagreement. Some of the members wanted to begin by hiring a missionary; others wanted to secure a vessel for a floating chapel. They were eager to give the seamen a place of their own, where they would feel comfortable. Many seamen were in a transitory state. They didn’t feel at home on land and they didn’t feel like they quite fit in sitting next to a finely dressed lady in church. The Board wanted to create a place where the seamen would feel welcome.

In the early minutes of the Board Meeting of the Young Men’s Church Missionary Society, as the Seamen’s Church Institute was first known, it is clear that the Board members were in disagreement. Some of the members wanted to begin by hiring a missionary; others wanted to secure a vessel for a floating chapel. They were eager to give the seamen a place of their own, where they would feel comfortable. Many seamen were in a transitory state. They didn’t feel at home on land and they didn’t feel like they quite fit in sitting next to a finely dressed lady in church. The Board wanted to create a place where the seamen would feel welcome.

The hull of the Ferry Boat Manhattan was purchased for a sum of $2000, much of which came out of the pockets of the Board members. The boat was 70’ x 30’, and on top was built a Gothic church. It was covered in cedar board and painted a dark stone color. Inside it could seat 500 people. The reading desk, pulpit, and communion table were enclosed by a ‘neat chancel rail.’ The marble baptismal font, now in the current chapel of SCI, was made into the shape of a capstan.

The hull of the Ferry Boat Manhattan was purchased for a sum of $2000, much of which came out of the pockets of the Board members. The boat was 70’ x 30’, and on top was built a Gothic church. It was covered in cedar board and painted a dark stone color. Inside it could seat 500 people. The reading desk, pulpit, and communion table were enclosed by a ‘neat chancel rail.’ The marble baptismal font, now in the current chapel of SCI, was made into the shape of a capstan.

The Church was consecrated on February 20,1844, by the Right Reverend Bishop Onderdonk, who was a member of the Board. Approximately 30 to 40 members of the clergy of New York and Brooklyn attended the service, as well as 250 seamen. The chapel was named the Floating Church of Our Saviour for Seamen and was moored at Whitehall Slip for a time before being moved to Pike Street.

The Church was consecrated on February 20,1844, by the Right Reverend Bishop Onderdonk, who was a member of the Board. Approximately 30 to 40 members of the clergy of New York and Brooklyn attended the service, as well as 250 seamen. The chapel was named the Floating Church of Our Saviour for Seamen and was moored at Whitehall Slip for a time before being moved to Pike Street.

The Floating Church of Our Saviour remained at Pike Street until 1866 when it was deemed no longer to be seaworthy. It was replaced with another church of the same name.

The Floating Church of Our Saviour remained at Pike Street until 1866 when it was deemed no longer to be seaworthy. It was replaced with another church of the same name.

In 1846, a second floating church was moored at Dey Street and called the Floating Church of the Holy Comforter. It remained there until 1868, when it too was deemed unseaworthy but was not replaced. The Floating Church of Our Saviour would remain moored at Pike Street until 1910.

In 1846, a second floating church was moored at Dey Street and called the Floating Church of the Holy Comforter. It remained there until 1868, when it too was deemed unseaworthy but was not replaced. The Floating Church of Our Saviour would remain moored at Pike Street until 1910.

Reverend Archibald Mansfield, Executive Director of SCI, on the deck of the Floating Church on the last day of services in 1910

Reverend Archibald Mansfield, Executive Director of SCI, on the deck of the Floating Church on the last day of services in 1910

In 1910, SCI realized they needed to attend to more than the seaman’s soul. While on shore, he needed a safe place to stay, someone to securely deposit his wages, and good food. It was then that SCI began to formulate a plan that led to the construction of the hotel at 25 South Street.

In 1910, SCI realized they needed to attend to more than the seaman’s soul. While on shore, he needed a safe place to stay, someone to securely deposit his wages, and good food. It was then that SCI began to formulate a plan that led to the construction of the hotel at 25 South Street.

Since the Floating Church was no longer needed, it was towed to Staten Island.

Since the Floating Church was no longer needed, it was towed to Staten Island.

It was taken ashore and became the All Saint’s Episcopal Church. It remained in operation until a fire destroyed it on December 26, 1958.

It was taken ashore and became the All Saint’s Episcopal Church. It remained in operation until a fire destroyed it on December 26, 1958.

The Seamen’s Church Institute Founded in 1834 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church (though non-denominational in terms of its trustees, staff and service to mariners), the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York & New Jersey (SCI) is the largest, most comprehensive mariners’ agency in North America. Annually, its chaplains visit 3,400 vessels in the Port of New York and New Jersey and along 2,200 miles of America’s inland waterways. SCI’s maritime education facilities provide navigational training to nearly 1,600 mariners each year through simulator-based facilities located in Houston, TX and Paducah, KY. The Institute and its maritime attorneys are recognized as leading advocates for merchant mariners by the United States Government, including the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, the International Labor Organization and maritime trade associations. Visit us on the Web at www.seamenschurch.org .

The Seamen’s Church Institute About the Anniversary Archive Project From April Hegner, SCI Archivist Greetings from the virtual, online museum of the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI)—175 years old in the year 2009. My name is April Hegner, SCI’s archivist during its Anniversary celebration. This year I have the distinct privilege of working in and among the rich and fascinating annals of history at SCI, North America’s largest maritime service organization. I am pleased to share with you some of my findings in several short slideshow presentations as part of the Anniversary Archive Project. Throughout the year, I will be adding more. You can view them as they are compiled at SCI’s website at www.seamenschurch.org . I hope that you enjoy leafing through these pages of the organization’s history. If you have any questions about this project or any particular item displayed here, you may contact me at [email_address] .

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