The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Shoe boxes at Christmas

Gifts bring holiday cheer to seafarers

A comb ... warm stockings ... a holiday note of caring .... The Lutheran Maritime Ministry and Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, Bellevue, Wash., bring holiday cheer to foreign seafarers away from their families at Christmas.

For 15 years, parishioner Hans Lenschow has coordinated a gift distribution to seafarers aboard vessels in the Port of Seattle. The firs t step is collecting about 100 empty shoe boxes.

Those boxes — complete with a list of items people can buy — are distributed at church in early December. Participants bring back filled boxes wrapped with holiday paper and ribbons the next Su nday. Last year about 60 boxes were distributed.

Lenschow, a retired Boeing engineer and a native of Norway, admits all Norwegians are seafarers. But he is interested in this ministry because the boxes are "a small and beautiful way to reac h out to others at Christmas."

Nearly a half million seafarers and fishers arrive yearly at Northwest waterfronts. The Northwest Washington Synod's effort is ecumenical — working out of the Seattle Seaman's Center with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and Episcopalians.

Vern Hunt, chaplain of the Maritime Ministry, often finds that he is the only local contact for the sailors. For many, his prayer services also represent their first contact with Christianity.


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