A Selfless Life

IMG (1)The Board of the Alaska Christian Ministry to Seafarer’s (“ACMS”) is sad to report that one of our founders and first directors has passed away.  Richard (“Dick”) Cederberg was a beloved brother in Christ who had a good sense of humor, a marvelous singing voice, a big smile, and a willingness to tackle any chore no matter how small or unpleasant.  He was a constant servant, an encourager and a friend to every seafarer and Mission volunteer that he met. Dick was born in 1927 in Kansas, earned a college degree in engineering, served in the U.S, military, and later worked for several companies across the U.S. before moving with his wife, Gayle, and family to Alaska.  One day in 1989, he and Gayle were invited by a Burmese radio officer to dine on a ship visiting the Port of Anchorage.  There they met Joe and Jeannette Seale who still visit ships in Anchorage today.  The seafarer urged Dick to help the Seales start a “seaman’s mission”, which became ACMS.  [Details on the early history of our Mission can be found using the History tab on this Website].   Dick served as Board President for several years, helping create policies that still guide our operations today.  Later, when the organization opened a building in Seward, Dick would ride the train there from Anchorage (120 miles) to serve, and when work was done, he’d ride the train home. Upon the death of a man, it is appropriate to consider the impact of his life, his character and motivations.  Dick never mentioned his education or employment as a measure of his success.  Those paid the family’s bills.  He found more fulfillment as an unpaid volunteer working at the Mission.  Gayle said he “loved” providing comfort and encouragement to the crews who labor long hours each day for months on end, while also addressing the needs of passengers and co-workers.  He understood many crew members work hard, so that their respective children will enjoy better lives.  He was motivated to selflessly serve the workers who serve others. Why?  Because Dick Cederberg was a sincere Christian.  He felt he had a calling to love others as he was selflessly loved by his Lord.  (John 13:34; Phil. 3:12b)   Dick was generous with his time, with contributed clothing, cookies and Christmas presents.  And, he was fully engaged in this enterprise, pressing forward until illnesses took his health.  Dick’s kind deeds will not be forgotten.  His led a remarkably selfless life. Rest in peace, brother.

Alaska Christian Ministry To Seafarer’s work in Anchorage consists mainly of work onboard ships and transporting seafarers to local retail outlets to purchase goods for their life on ships. The Anchorage staff also heads up the mission’s work in Whittier with the assistance of some of the staff and volunteers in Seward when they are available.

Most of the ships coming to the Anchorage port are cargo ships. Our Anchorage staff also does much of their work onboard the ships meeting the needs of the captains, top staff and also the seafarers.

The city of Whittier is very unique. Situated at the head of Passage Canal, the community of Whittier is approximately 58 miles southeast of Anchorage. Whittier is by far the most visited gateway to the mesmerizing wilderness of Prince William Sound. Each summer, thousands of visitors arrive at this magnificent port by ship, train, or automobile.

The 218 distinguished citizens of Whittier, yes I said only 218 citizens, are waiting with open arms to share this incredible gem of the Alaskan frontier with visitors. Consequently during the summer there are many visitors coming into Whittier via train, ship and automobile. The port of Whittier is used almost exclusively by Princess Cruise lines.

alaska_whittier_missionThe city itself is a historical area, established by the U.S. Army during World War II. The Federal railroad to Portage was completed in 1943 and became the primary debarkation point for cargo, troops, and dependents of the Alaska Command. In 1948 the military began construction of the first of two buildings for their military personnel as the Port of Whittier was then recognized as an ice-free, deep water port strategically located to Anchorage and Interior Alaska. This remained active until 1960 at which time the total population was 1200. The City of Whittier was incorporated in 1969. Today, less than 300 people reside in the town yet they have an annual visiting population of over 700,000 with many coming through a unique single lane tunnel through a mountain.

The Alaska Christian Seaman’s Mission uses one or more rooms in the only apartment/condo building in Whittier when it is needed. The staff at Whittier is made up of staff and volunteers that come from both Seward and Anchorage. Whittier provides the same services in Whittier as they do at Seward. Staff and volunteers love serving at Whittier because of its unique setting and history.

The Seward, Alaska port is home to Alaska Christian Ministry to Seafarer’s. The Alaska Christian Ministry to Seafarers in Seward provides a home-like setting to crew members reaching the Mission from ships (principally cruise ships) that dock at the Seward port. Most crew members take advantage of the Mission fast and inexpensive WiFi, purchase phone cards, shoot baskets, attend worship services, enjoy free lunches and our fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. Each ship reaches this port during the summer months about every two weeks.

The Alaska Christian Ministry to Seafarers Director, currently Pastor Scott Johnson, also goes aboard the various cruise and coal ships to speak with seafarers who, for one reason or another, are not able to come to our Seward facility. Over the summer, he and others develop close friendships with individual crew members.

90722fff-2bf0-4d7f-919a-36f564de89fc_dThroughout the day, generally starting at 9 a.m., volunteers employ a 7passenger van to transport seafarers to the Mission and back — or to other Seward locations, especially grocery store and restaurants. At the Mission, the volunteers desire to meet crew member needs. Some one-on-one conversations lead to explanations of what Christians believer. Seafarers also use the Mission’s computers to send and receive emails, etc. if they don’t own their own laptops or tablets.

Also, on many days, the mission holds a worship service for the ship’s believers. This special event allows the mission staff and some of their volunteers to worship together and present a special teaching to the ship’s Christian community. These services are very uplifting to the seafarers, staff and volunteers as songs can be sung in many different languages and it reminds one of what it might be like in heaven as believers from many nations worship together.