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About
Ministry To Seafarers

Who We Are

The Ministry to Seafarers in Vancouver is a chaplaincy ministry focused on support for and outreach to seafarers who pass through the Port of Vancouver, Canada. At present 1 full-time chaplain is employed throughout the year. Many years an intern is also hired to serve during the summer months. We partner with the Mission to Seafarers (Anglican Church) and Stella Maris (Roman Catholic Church), serving at the Waterfront Centre (downtown Vancouver) and at Roberts Bank (Tsawwassen). We also support ministry centres in other BC ports, especially Port Alberni. Ministry to Seafarers is a member of the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA).

Our Chaplain

  • Gary Roosma

    Chaplain

    Gary is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, currently serving as chaplain in the Port of Vancouver with the CRC Ministry to Seafarers and in partnership with the Anglican Mission to Seafarers. This ministry involves visiting cargo ships in port and serving seafarers in the ministry centres in Vancouver and at Roberts Bank.

    Missions has been the primary focus for most of Gary’s ministry life, especially leadership training. In the 1980’s he served for 5 years in Papua New Guinea in leadership training and community development. Then he and his wife, Jennifer, with their three children, worked with OMF International for 10 years in East Malaysia, with a focus on training local pastors for ministry. He spent another 7 years working as Regional Director with OMF in BC. He also served as pastor at Emmanuel Christian Community in Richmond BC from 2010-2013. Preaching and teaching continue to be another big part of his ministry.

    Gary served as an intern with the Ministry to Seafarers previously, visiting cruise ships during the summer of 1993. Moving into ship ministry full-time was in many ways a very natural transition, as Gary loves the interaction with seafarers from around the world. He and his wife attend The Tapestry Marpole CRC.

  • Ashutosh Biswal

    Intern

    Over the years the Ministry to Seafarers has been served by a number of quality interns, and 2024 is no different. In January we were joined by Ashutosh Biswal. “Ashu” is a student at Regent College completing his final course this term. He hails from India, has been studying at Regent since 2019, and served as intern at First CRC Vancouver over the past couple of years. His work with the Ministry to Seafarers has been timely, as he has filled in 4 days a week during the time that Gary has been off for a short sabbatical.

Our Mission

The Ministry to Seafarers meets with visiting seafarers, communicating the saving grace of Jesus Christ, through words and deeds.

Vision

Our vision is to visit as many ships as possible which pass through the Port of Vancouver in order to share the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ with seafarers in Word and deed by providing literature and other resources, by serving them in practical ways at the seafarers’ centres, and by engaging in quality Christian dialogue whenever and however possible.

History

In 1970 Classis BC of the Christian Reformed Church, as a natural outflow of what individual members in the Lower Mainland of BC were already doing, began the Ministry to Seafarers. They called Rev. Jeff Dresselhuis to serve as the first chaplain. He operated from his home (a basement full of Bibles, literature and magazines), visiting ships in the Port of Vancouver, while encouraging similar ministry to be done in other ports. After 23 years of faithful service, Rev. Dresselhuis retired and Rev. Simon Wolfert became chaplain in 1993. Simon built on the network of support that had been developed and worked toward greater collaboration with other ministries, forming a close relationship with the Anglican “Mission to Seafarers” and its Flying Angel Club. In 2003 Ernst DeVries began his chaplaincy, and with the expansion of Delta Port (Roberts Bank) focused his ministry primarily there, where a Flying Angel Club was also set up. For 14 years Ernst served as a very faithful visitor to the ships and a passionate advocate for MTS throughout B.C. and Alberta. He has also maintained good relations with the AMS and other marine ministries.

The Ministry to Seafarers continues to serve seafarers by visiting ships, distributing literature, providing rides for seafarers, and ministering to them both on the ships and at the centres located downtown and at Roberts Bank. The current chaplain is Rev. Gary Roosma, who began serving full-time in September 2017.

Rev. Peter Smyth of the Anglican Mission to Seafarers – far right, with yellow jacket & sunglasses
Deacon Dileep Athaide of the Roman Catholic Apostleship of the Sea – centre, with orange jacket and sunglasses
Gary is on the far left