SCI Raises $3 Million For Ministry On The River

The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) has announced that it has raised more than $3 million of its $5 million goal so far in support of its Ministry on the River campaign. 

The campaign was launched in 2019 with two lead gifts from American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL) and the Ray & Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust but paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the campaign’s relaunch, SCI said it has received generous donations from the following maritime companies, industry leaders, and foundations: Ingram Barge Company, American Commercial Barge Line, Ray & Kay Eckstein Charitable Trust, Steve & Melody Golding Foundation, Hines Furlong Line, Inc., Canal Barge Company Inc., Mark and Mary Knoy, Blessey Marine Services Inc., Jennifer A. Carpenter, Richard and Ann du Moulin, Chem Carriers Towing Inc., Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett and Cooper Consolidated LLC.

“Following a pandemic pause I am grateful to see so many in our industry step up,” said Mark Knoy, campaign leader, SCI board member and former president and CEO of American Commercial Barge Line. “I am incredibly grateful to our donors. To see this level of giving and commitment amongst competing companies and leaders really underscores our collective sentiment about how much we all value the men and women who work in our industry.”

SCI’s Ministry on the River program focuses on the wellness and wellbeing of domestic mariners. SCI’s chaplains and a broad network of chaplain associates are trained in crisis management and respond to maritime emergencies on the Western Rivers or Gulf of Mexico. Beyond crisis response, SCI river chaplaincy entails frequent contact and follow-up with mariners, checking in and advising on mental health, celebrating milestones and providing advice and guidance.

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“While I am retired from my leadership role, all of my peers within the industry agree: what stands out for us when we think about SCI is its ministry,” Knoy said. “It’s the heart of SCI, and all of us can recall difficult times within our companies when we have been thankful an SCI chaplain was there to connect on a compassionate level with our people. I have seen firsthand what SCI chaplains can do. It’s why I am a donor myself and remain a committed volunteer within this campaign.”

SCI is North America’s largest mariner and seafarer service organization. While founded in 1834 in New York City, it began its work along the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico in 1997. Ministry on the River currently employs two full-time river chaplains along the Upper and Lower Mississippi. 

Contributions to the Ministry on the River campaign will enable SCI to expand its staffing to four full-time river chaplains, SCI announced. A third chaplain will soon be coming aboard in Houston, with the fourth chaplain on track to be hired at the completion of the campaign. The campaign remains ongoing and continues to accept philanthropic contributions. 

“I’m continually impressed by how this highly competitive inland maritime industry will rally around a cause and work together to meet their mariners’ crucial needs,” said the Rev. Mark S. Nestlehutt, SCI’s president and executive director. “So many companies and key individuals have stepped forward in the past few months to re-energize our Ministry on the River campaign, demonstrate their commitment to mariners and propel us closer to our goal of adding two new full-time river chaplains. It’s been humbling to witness this level of support and enthusiasm. We cannot thank these donors enough.”