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Joshua Messick and Mary Davisson in high visibility vests

Restoration in the Wake of Tragedy

June 3, 2024

In the Pentecost edition of The Messenger, Communications and Operations Manager Michael Cuppett providers an update on one of our church’s longstanding mission partners, the Baltimore International Seafarer’s Center (BISC) as they respond to the Key Bridge Collapse.

Restoration in the Wake of Tragedy

As people across the nation know—and we profoundly felt—the cargo ship Dali destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. As long as the Eiffel Tower is high, the Dali was bound for Sri Lanka, carrying nearly 5,000 shipping containers on its voyage across the seas. In the aftermath of the tragedy, facts and figures were published on everything from the cost of the bridge (anywhere from hundreds of millions to billions), the economic impact (fifteen million dollars per day), or the time it will take to rebuild (from one year to several). And yet, ironically, the number of shipping containers, the size of the ship, and all these figures are somewhat immaterial. From Roman Catholics to Unitarians, people of faith know that what ultimately matters are the real, lived experiences of our local and global neighbors. What matters are the lives of those impacted from the tragedy, our global and local neighbors, and the families of the six construction workers who died that terrible morning.

Joshua Messick and Mary Davisson in high visibility vests
Rev. Joshua Messick (left), executive director, and the Rev. Mary Davisson (right), retired director, Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center.

In the aftermath of the accident, the ship’s Singapore-based manager said that the seafarers were “in good shape. They’re being well looked after, well cared for.” Thanks to the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center (BISC) and executive director Rev. Josh Messick, the ship’s crew received an often-overlooked and underappreciated commodity: internet connection. With the help of a salvage ship, Rev. Messick provided the crew with Wi-Fi hotspots, a valuable asset for the seafarers as they awaited the slow but steady recovery and salvage efforts. Rev. Messick shared another small but meaningful token of care, enclosing 40 homemade muffins from a BISC volunteer. Though it may seem like a small gesture, it demonstrates the concern of Marylanders of faith not only for the tangible, material needs of those impacted, but a concern for the holistic person’s wellbeing and sense of connection.

In April, BISC hosted its annual harbor cruise to raise awareness of its ministry. Though its normal attendance is typically around 80, over 150 participated this year out of concern for the Dali and the other seven ships stranded in the port. Rev. Messick reminded guests that BISC visits almost every ship that enters the port, ensuring that the human rights of seafarers are respected while providing constant care for each crewperson.

To support the efforts of BISC as they respond to the tragedy of the Key bridge collapse, the Mission Committee voted and sent $4,000 on behalf of our congregation. We are grateful for the lasting partnership between CPC and the center, giving thanks especially for the life, witness, and persistent ministry of Lee Van Koten through BISC.

Read More

“Local outreach to seafarers stuck in Port of Baltimore,” Sheilah Kast and Maureen Harvie, April 2, 2024, WYPR.

“Baltimore Seafarers’ Center sees record attendance for annual cruise,” Tori Yorgey, April 24, 2024, WBAL,

“The Dali crew is in limbo. With Wi-Fi, they can see the world outside the Port of Baltimore,” Maya Lora, April 3, 2024, Baltimore Sun,