The Tacoma Seafarers Center

A Special Ministry Tribute

The following incident regarding the late Pastor Eckhoff, the beloved leader of the Tacoma Seamen's Center for many years who said, "We must show them we care, before they care what we know." That was his spiritual and operating motto, and after his passing, it is still very current, since the Center continues with the exact same spirit of love and gracious, practical help that the seamen the world over have come to know and appreciate greatly (as their letters of thanks and words in person prove repeatedly!)

Columbines From Pearl A. Ginther's Garden. Pearl Ginther has provided many bouquets for the Center over the years from her garden in Puyallup, Washington

The Rev. Ray Eckhoff boarded a Peruvian ship that had just arrived in the Port of Tacoma, Wash. Two Peruvian seamen recognized him and took him aside. "We need 12 Spanish Bibles," the men told him. Eckhoff agreed to supply the Bibles. He called a seamen's center [located] in the ship's next port of call, for help in delivering the Bibles. Services such as this are carried out many times each year by Pastor Eckhoff and volunteers at the Tacoma Seamen's Center.

The center now under the energetic and inspired leadership of Ed Egan ministers to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the seafarers. Tracing its origins to the Seamen's Institute founded by the Rev. Harry Ferneyhough in 1903, the center fell under wartime control of the armed forces. After the Korean War, the center returned to civilian control.

It had been run by Eckhoff since 1978 [see Note]. In addition to sudden demands for Bibles in foreign languages, the center offers Bible correspondence courses in seven languages, which have been popular among seafarers. One person on a ship is chosen as a "ministering seafarer." That person is given the correspondence courses, as well as Christian videotapes and audiocassettes, to share with the other men on board. His name also is put on a computerized list, which is distributed to more than 80 other seamen's centers so chaplains in other ports can contact him to offer support and encouragement.

The Tacoma Seamen's Center is housed in an attractive, chalet-style structure. The building houses pool tables, games, lounges, telephone booth, and a gift-ship counter. The Telephone booth in the center's lobby testifies to the seafarers' need to contact families whom they may not have seen for months.[A second facility has been opened for the seamen, located right near the downtown, as it took the seamen some walking oftentimes in wet weather to get to the Alexander St. facility and was not so convenient for reaching the downtown of Tacoma].

A sailor just off a boat steps into the center's telephone booth and dials the operator. "Manila, Philippines, please," he asks in halting English. Tears come as he hears his wife's voice on the line.

Because seafarers sometimes have only a few hours in port, the center's gift-shop counter sells basic items the seafarers may not have time to get otherwise. Stamps and postcards also are available.

The center owns three vans, which are used to take seamen to professional health care facilities, the post office, or other downtown locations. The vans also transport seamen to local churches of their choice. The center maintains its own staff of chaplains, some of whom are bilingual. Volunteers keep the books, cook, visit ships, and take care of maintenance and security at the center.

A women's group assembles and packages more than 800 [since 2005-6, it has grown past 1200!] Christmas gifts for distribution on ships between November and December 25. A greeting in English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Greek is enclosed in each box.[The following picture is typical of the seamen who receive the Christian hand of love, fellowship, and the Gospel via the Tacoma Seafarers' Center:]

The Seafarers' Center serves as a key link in the church's global mission. As chaplains and volunteers reach out with Christ's love to the seafarers who arrive in Tacoma from dozens of countries, that love is spread throughout the world as seafarers travel to other ports and home countries, knowing that someone in Tacoma cared.--by Ronald D. Ginther for the LUTHERAN STANDARD magazine, published Nov. 20, 1987

Sailors have but to look at the Center's clocks to see what the time is in Taiwan, China, Japan, Manila in the Philippines, compared with the Local Time, so that they can make calls at the appropriate times to best reach loved ones.

Chaplain Eckhoff has since retired from full time service, but he continues to be active at the center [Important Update: since this was first posted, this great saint of God has passed away, and gone to a very rich reward in heaven, but his wife Mrs. Eckhoff still carries on energetically at the Center, as well as contributes articles to the Mooring Mast newsletter of the Center]. Although the center is organized under the auspices of the Lutheran Church and the international association of seamens' centers, every church and charitable organization is encouraged to support this center with contributions, volunteers, and prayers.

Only by widely-based, cross-denominational church and community support can it continue to thrive and reach thousands of seafarers annually.

The giftboxes at Christmas given the seamen now number well over 1000. The original building has been expanded, the new addition adding much needed space as the services have grown year after year and more ships are being contacted.

For more information on this wonderful, vital Christian center for the seamen, you can contact the center directly. A second site, more accessible to seafarers, has also been put into operation. The link for the center is:

Tacoma Seafarers Center Website

The Center publishes its own newsletter, MOORING LINES, a monthly which can be obtained by writing to the current editor and chaplain, Ed Egan, with the address in the contact information given. Or you can contact the center directly on-line with the link above.

This very interesting and encouraging newsletter gives the tally for ships visited and number of visits each month, along with accounts of the visits on board ships and accounts of experiences by seamen themselves.

These accounts are often testimonies of how seamen responded to the Gospel and came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, as well as how these Christian seamen become partners in spreading the Gospel to their shipmates and captains. Letters from seamen are also shared by the newsletter, as contacts are renewed and updated and friendships continue between the people at the Center and the seafarers strung across the wide oceans and seas.

For immediate contact, you may call 1-253-272-0716 and ask for the Chaplain and Director of the Center, Paul Peterson.

The downtown Seafarers Satellite Center's address is: 1118 Port of Tacoma Rd, Tacoma, WA 98424 (Tel: (253)-272-0716). This facility is very handy to the seafarers, for they can easily walk to it from the ships at the nearby docks and wharves.--Ed.

"Pearl Ginther Celebrates 100 Years 9/13/1909 - 9/13/2009,"

A Tribute to Centenarian, Pearl Ginther

From the MOORING LINES, October 2009 Newsletter, Tacoma, Washington

One of God's earthly angels celebrated her 100th birthday on September 13th. She was born in 1909 in South Dakota on a beautiful fall day. She moved to the Tacoma area in 1942. Pearl raised eight children. Her father Alfred and mother Bergit raised nine children on a farm near Canton, SD. Pearl's motto "That His Light Shine Through Our Heritage--To God Be His Glory" resonates throughout her life.

Her family attended a large birthday celebration on the weekend of the 13th. Relatives from across the US and Europe attended. Over 200 guests and family reached out to honor this wonderful woman. In addition to her own children, she had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, plus numerous other relatives and great-grandchildren, plus numerous other relatives and guests.

Her reception was held at Mt. View Lutheran Church.

For years, Pearl has told her friends, "I plan to make it to my 100th birthday if my family likes it or not." Pearl has been an active member of Mt. View Lutheran Church and carried God's mission to the Tacoma Seafarer's Center since 1980.

In describing her accomplishments, we could fill this entire newsletter. But, for her sake we'll only list the top ten!

Each year Pearl personally wraps 30+ Christmas boxes and writes letters to all the seafarers that receive her church's gifts. She is and has been a member of the Ladies' Auxiliary for 29 years. She attends monthly meetings, has served as President, Historian, devotion leader, cookie-maker, recruiter, prayer chain member and numerous other roles. Pearl is a fervent Prayer for the Seafarers and any others she hears about.

Several of Pearl's children are also serving at the Center. She has an innate ability to make you smile and laugh (often at herself).

Pearl could not be more enthusiastic about spreading God's word through our ministry. She is an example of love, faithfulness and commitment, with a source from God's Spirit itself. One of your writers was brought to the Center ten years back, when asked to help deliver Christmas boxes. She is a contributor in every way possible.

THANK YOU, PEARL!! THANK YOU, GOD, FOR OUR PRECIOUS PEARL!--Submitted by Ed, Sue and Herb, The Moorings Lines Newsletter, October 2009

Update: Pearl Ginther passed to glory, April 30, 2011, turning over her huge Christmas card collections, and the boxes of Christmas gift box wrappings, to Ed Egan and his wife, with Paul Peterson stepping next into the responsibility of leadership. Ed was directed to the Seafarers Center by Pearl Ginther, and he loves the ministry, becoming the leader of it. He credits his involvement to her, and she loved his work from the start, so it is in good hands!

See the Christmas Tree and the Seafarers, on our Tripod page:

The Mooring Lines-Seafarers' Christmas Tree

Along with the chaplains and pastors, volunteers are vital at the Center--this is a service, a non-profit ministry, which depends on them! Darrell R. Ginther, Pearl A. Ginther's eldest son, is one of the regular volunteers serving the seamen at the Center, and for over twenty years he has ministered there, and continues to this day in October 2007 to be of help any way he can.

This testimony of his is worth your checking out! It tells, in his old words and others', of his deliverance by the hand of the Lord from Satan's kingdom, and the marvelous freedom and light that came through Jesus Christ. [Update: Darrell passed to glory Aug. 13, 2011, just 3 months and 13 days after his mother Pearl Ginther--Ed.]

Pearl Ginther's eldest son is Darrell R. Ginther. Darrell was to the last days of his life an evangelist, after countless street corner preachings and singing of Gospel hymns to the passers-by of countless cities and towns, in the U.S. and Canada and also Europe. His young father he lost when he was only 12 years old, a most godly man, age 42. Robert Ginther was a carpenter in the Tacoma shipyards until shortly before his death, but loved the Word of God, studied it whenever he had a spare moment, and even preached at a Gospel mission in downtown Sioux Falls.

Following his dad's example, Darrell continued all his life to hold up the Good News of Jesus in word and song to the lost of this world searching for a meaning for their lives. The following is the account of Darrell's father's journey, spiritual and physical, in life before his young life was taken in a tragic accident at the age of 42 along with Darrell's young uncle (in his twenties). The plane crash was not the end of them--however, for their testimonies and their lives still shine, these many years since their graduation to heaven!

Plain View Heritage Farm Home Pages: The Introductory

Zion Central for "Prince of Zion: Darrell Ginther"

Central for Tributes

New Main Linking Page

Seamens' Center Celebrates Pearl Ginther's 100th

Pearl's 101st Birthday

Pearl's Ministries Central

"The Trumpet Call," the Homegoing Service Messages for Robert Ginther, Father to Darrell Ginther, and Darrell's Uncle, Arthur Stadem

New Pages and Links for Return Visitors

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