Ingram Gives $1 Million To SCI’s Ministry On The River

Nashville-based Ingram Barge Company, which operates a fleet of more than 140 towboats and 4,000 barges, has announced a $1 million gift to the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) to help expand the organization’s chaplain ministry to mariners at work on the nation’s inland and coastal waterways. The gift supports SCI’s Ministry on the River campaign.

“Nothing is more important at Ingram Barge than the well-being of our associates,” said John Roberts, president and CEO of Ingram Marine Group. “And the Seamen’s Church Institute and the campaign to grow the Ministry on the River drives right to that foundation. When our associates need help, support and care, our Seamen’s Church chaplains are there to provide just that. For us to participate in the growth of this wonderful support for our industry is an honor.”

SCI’s river chaplains and chaplain associates focus on mariner support and crisis response along the length of America’s inland river system and intracoastal waterways. While SCI was founded in 1834 in New York City as a ministry to seafarers, the organization began serving mariners along the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico in 1997. SCI’s Ministry on the River currently employs two full-time river chaplains, Paducah, Ky.-based David Shirk and Baton Rouge, La.-based Tom Rhoades, with a third Houston-based chaplain coming online soon. A network of chaplain associates are located throughout the river system, making SCI able to quickly meet the humanitarian, spiritual and crisis needs of boat crews and individual mariners, regardless of location.

“Following traumatic events, we want our chaplains to be able to deploy to vessels, families, fleets, shipyards and offices,” Rhoades said. “Incidents are only the beginning of our pastoral care. Follow-up can continue for weeks as we assess, refer and support those involved to ensure they recover. No one is the same after life-changing incidents, but we don’t want an incident to redefine the rest of someone’s life.”

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Broader Network

According to SCI, Ingram’s donation will support the expansion of SCI’s Ministry on the River and help build a broader and more responsive network ready to serve mariners on the inland waterways.

“The Ingram Barge Company has been a tremendous supporter of SCI’s Ministry on the River program since its inception,” said the Rev. Mark Nestlehutt, president and executive director of Seamen’s Church Institute. “As SCI endeavors to raise $5 million to complete our Ministry on the River campaign, this transformative gift helps ensure that all mariners benefit from the services provided by SCI’s river chaplains. It will help expand our ability to respond more effectively to crises throughout the inland river system and Intracoastal Waterway. This gift is yet another tangible example of Ingram’s solid commitment and concern for the welfare of U.S. mariners.”

Besides SCI’s chaplains, the organization also offers its Center for Maritime Education, with training facilities in Houston and Paducah that provide simulator training, e-learning and research data to mariners and river-based companies. In addition, SCI’s Center for Mariner Advocacy, based in New Orleans, provides legal support to mariners and campaigns on behalf of mariner and seafarer rights.