Our Logo and Banner represent our mission to the world, to people of all colors, all religions, especially those who are people of the sea.
The Houston International Seafarers’ Centers are a “home away from home” for seafarers visiting the Port of Houston. Chartered in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Texas, the two Centers have during their existence, served over a million visiting seafarers. Both Centers exist as the result of a deep desire and concern within the local maritime industry, followed by active support and involvement of the community and local churches, to provide a safe and welcoming recreational and spiritual environment on land for those who have chosen the sea as their livelihood.
Recognizing that all human persons are a gift of God, the mission of the chaplains and Committee for Ministry to the Port of Houston is to carry out a ministry of presence, outreach, witness, worship, service, and advocacy to, with, and for seafarers and their families from around the world.
In 1963, a Belgian sea captain who immigrated to the U.S. had a dream of a place for seamen to go in the Port of Houston. He had sailed to this port many times and had found that it had not received the name of “Worst port in the world” for seamen without reason. He dreamed of a great seamen center and sold this dream to several others involved in shipping in one way or another. The result was the formation of the Houston International Seaman Center Inc. This body functioned in a semi-dormant state for some five years.
In 1968 three ministers (Rev. Taft Lyon, Presbyterian; Rev. Sam Duree, United Methodist; & Rev. Rivers Patout, Roman Catholic) who were working together in an ecumenical venture, caught a vision of the need of the seamen. They asked around and found that there had been several fruitless efforts to start a center for seamen, but nothing lasting had resulted. They heard about this secular group which included many well-known Houston names such as Howard Tellepsen and Jane Blaffer Owen and contacted them. This was the beginning of a unique coalition that was to bring to existence a “one of a kind” service to the seafarers that came to the Port of Houston.
This nucleus of three ministers formed a committee known as the “Committee on Ministry to International Seamen, Port of Houston.” From these three men with a dream, a ministry formed that at one time included eleven denominations: Episcopal, three Lutheran, United Methodist, Catholic, two Presbyterians, Norwegian Seamen’s Church, Greek Orthodox & Houston Rabbinical Association. The Southern Baptists are currently inactive on the committee but has numerous congregations participating.