A chalice used to minister to sailors along the rough-hewn New York waterfront 149 years ago has been returned to duty at a Florida seaport ministry, decades after it was stored in a cabinet and forgotten.
The Seafarer's House at Port Everglades is the new home of the chalice, once used at a floating church for sailors anchored in the Hudson River.The Floating Chapel of the Holy Comforter was established in 1843 as a mission to save sailors' souls. The early mission often fed, clothed and weaned the mariners off alcohol.
The maritime church disbanded in 1900, and all its accouterments were sent back to New York's Trinity Episcopal Parish.
Six years later, Trinity was asked to help furnish the new St. John's Episcopal Church in Dania, Fla., and St. John's inherited the chalice.
When the church moved to Hollywood, the chalice was stashed in a cabinet. The Rev. Hobart Gary of St. Johns discovered it while taking an inventory several months ago. He traced the chalice's history to the floating chapel.
"I'd like to think that my great-grandfather had seen this very same chalice," he said, noting his relative was a sailor converted at the floating chapel.
Gary figured the proper home for the flare-mouthed chalice was the Seafarer's House, a descendant of the New York seamen's church. In a special ceremony recently, Gary gave the chalice to the Rev. David Mesenbring, executive director of Seafarer's House.
The 7-year-old refuge is a nondemoninational center that serves about 7,000 mariners a month from vessels of all nations.