A Little History

In 1970, Mr. Howard Botts of the Sheridan Hills Baptist Church initiated a ministry to seamen at Port Everglades under the auspices of Gulf Stream.  It was incredibly active from the start!  In the first year alone they “visited and ministered to more than 1,334 men on 223 ships from 39 countries. (List attached in the Annual) We have distributed 306 Bibles, 495 New Testaments, 494 Gospels, 4,138 tracts, and 4,720 magazines.” The report said 217 seamen were taken on shopping trips and 78 were provided other trips. “Five services were held aboard ships, 125 services were visited in the churches and 15 seamen confessed Christ as Savior.” By 1987, the ministry had attracted national attention and the support of the Home Mission Board’s Christmas in August donations.  Yet, by 1989 Mr. Botts recognized that changes were in the wind for shipping.  He reported that “shipping is constantly changing. Ships

are going to containers.” (Large cranes load and unload container ships, reducing the number of

seamen needed for ship and storage activities.)  Soon, the Botts ministry would come to an end. The 1993 Annual was dedicated to Howard and Martha Botts, Seaman’s Ministry retirees, ending 24

years of service at Port Everglades September 30, 1993.  In 1996, the name of the Seaman’s Ministry was changed to Seafarers’ Ministry.  In 1998, the Women’s ministry of Gulf Stream asked churches to Christmas gift containers of a towel, tooth brash, tooth paste, a comb and other personal items.

Pastor Stephen Wright, chaplain at the Seafarers' House, Port Everglades.

SeaFarers' House, Pt. Everglades

Sweeping changes came to port ministry in 2001.  After terrorists struck the World Trade Center, all aspects of travel and shipping were changed.  Port Everglades became a much more difficult place to minister.  Individual ministry organizations, like the one that had existed during so many years at GSBA, ended up as one multi-faith ministry.  Operating out of the Seafarers' House are a variety of religious expressions.  Southern Baptists have an official chaplain, Stephen Wright, who also pastors one of our GSBA churches.

Shoeboxes for Christmas

Stephen is asking this year for the same kind of help that was requested in 1998 by the Women's Missionary Union.  Shoeboxes will be given to seafarers who arrive here during the Christmas season.  Want to help? You can find the guidelines for the shoeboxes by hitting this link.  In addition, a great ministry opportunity exists for everyone youth through adults.  Over 2000 seafarers will pass through Port Everglades in December.  We are able to go and to share with these people in a personal way.  Many do not speak English and our best may be a caring smile and our presence as we give them something special in honor of Christ.  For more details, contact the associational office at office@gsba.org or at 954-583-0339.