Seafarers International House

Seafarers International House

The Rev. Marsh Luther Drege

Our Work

Seafarers International House voted to become a Sanctuary organization in 2017 and is grateful that the ELCA voted last year to be the first Sanctuary church body in the nation. With countless friends and partners in, and funding from, the Metro NY Synod, Seafarers International House practiced “We are Church Together” by serving the following during 2019:

  • 38,225 immigrants, seafarers, and community members directly benefited from SIH services (up from 33,985)
  • 2,601 seafarers, regardless of faith, received Christmas-at-Sea satchels filled with warm clothing and holiday greetings prepared by volunteers (up from 1,853)
  • 36 asylees found their first home in the U.S. in our guesthouse, staying a total of 1,651 nights, up from 28 and 1,182 respectively
  • 50 volunteer visitors brought hope to 26 asylum seekers, who were locked up in detention centers
  • 3 advocacy events were hosted, in order to draw attention to the plight of asylum seekers
  • 31,286 seafarers who were either visited or transported from 1,894 ships (up from 25,183 and 1,793 vessels)
  • 451 youth, church and community gatherings accommodated serving about 6,765 people (up from 432 and about 6,480 people)
  • 68 survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and local disasters were accommodated (up from 57)
Seafarers appreciate the Christmas-At-Sea satchels that Metro NY Synod members filled with warm clothing including hand-made hats and holiday greetings.

We Are Church Together

Seafarers International House often uses the tag line "Harbor of Hospitality." This reflects how the organization welcomes everyone: seafarers, who are often lonely; immigrants and asylum seekers, who are in need of lodging; and travelers—really people on the go—who all find open arms, open ears, a smile, and help through our dedicated staff in the guesthouse in Manhattan or from our Port Chaplains along the Eastern Seaboard.

“We Are Church Together” by welcoming the stranger. To view a video that illustrates our mission to immigrants and seafarers, and showcases how “We Are Church Together,” please visit: https://www.sihnyc.org/

Resident asylees and their friends practiced “We Are Church Together” during the Monday community meals at Seafarers International House.

Get Involved!

Congregations and individuals can get involved though assembling “Welcome Packs” for our asylum seekers. These start-up packs include t-shirts, socks, toiletries, a metro card and a food card. 

Congregations and individual can also join the long list of Lutherans who assist with our Christmas-At-Sea holiday initiative. Satchels (bags) are filled with warm clothing, including hand-made scarfs and hats, nuts, and holiday greetings, and are then distributed to seafarers, regardless of faith, so they won't feel so lonely or abandoned on Christmas. Last year, we delivered 2,601 satchels to seafarers!

Another way to get involved is for people to join our Asylee Visitation Program. On the third Saturday of each month, interested individuals are taken from our guesthouse near Union Square, Manhattan, to the Elizabeth Detention Center, to bring hope to asylum seekers who live there in prison-like conditions. Often, life-changing and lifelong friendships develop.

Of course, donations are also welcome. E.g.:

  • $35 pays for a Christmas-At-Sea Satchel with warm clothing for a lonely seafarer or a Welcome Package with a toiletry set and basic clothing for an asylee
  • $200 can provide an asylee with food for a month or help offset the costs of transporting seafarers to a clinic or mall
  • $500 secures lodging for an asylee for a week or pays for a port chaplain to board ships for a week.

Anyone interested in participating in Christmas-At-Sea, the asylee Welcome Packs, and/or the detention center visitation program, may get in touch with Pastor Marsh Luther Drege, 212-677-4800 ext. 1203 or [email protected]


Metro NY Synod members and other participants in the Asylum Seeker Visitation Program bring hope to detained asylum seekers, who endure prison-like conditions in the Elizabeth Detention Center

Resident asylees and their friends practiced “We Are Church Together” during the Monday community meals at Seafarers International House.